23 April 2007

An appreciation

[cross-posted at 400 Windmills]

This is World Book and Copyright Day, in memory of Cervantes, Shakespeare, and others. (It's quite fitting that we remember both Cervantes and the importance of intellectual property as Don Quixote wouldn't be the book it is without his creative act of self-defence: the novel's second part.)

At the Hay Festival in Cartagena this past January, Colombian author Jaime Manrique Ardila (Our Lives Are the Rivers; Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me) had some wonderful things to say about the book that has stayed with him the most: Don Quixote. He said he didn't understand anything the first time he read it at the age of 14, but that his vision of the world had irrevocably changed. While teaching in Massachusetts, he took a class on Don Quixote taught by a friend of his, who was dying of AIDS. It was an life-changing experience.

Manrique said he always wanted to teach it just to be able to read it again. He's read it five times--at the ages of 14, 21, 33, 45, and 52--and always feels like there's something more to understand. It's impossible to comprehend it all: only the heart can absorb Cervantes' humanity. Every page is a book. It takes Proust, Woolf, and everyone combined in order to compare to Cervantes (only Shakespeare rivals him).

He's spoken to Edith Grossman (who translated his volume of poetry, My Night with Federico García Lorca) about it. She's read it 14 times. He admitted that it was a bit unfair to pick Don Quixote as his most recommended book, as all books are based on it. Eduardo Lago, director of the Cervantes Institute in New York, was present as well and explained how he reads Don Quixote every ten years to see how he's changed.

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

Cervantes is a genius...it's true that he offers something new at each reading.

Found his review here.