03 May 2007

Reader on Cervantes

[cross-posted at 400 Windmills]

I tried to slow down while reading Reader's Block. I tried. I put it down several times, attempting to prolong the experience (especially as it's the last unread contemporary novel I had left). Unfortunately, my self-control was only good for two days. This is a book that brought back the best memories of undergrad life: breathless excitement about literature and that sense of (for lack of a better term) chummy intimacy with the giants on whose shoulders we supposedly stand--a shared burden and understanding of the failure and beauty that besets us all. (Yes, this makes David Markson another deserving hug-recipient.) It's an addictive, sad, exhilarating, frightening, compassionate work. On the back cover, Kurt Vonnegut calls it, "Hypnotic...a profoundly rewarding read." Yes.

Somehow, I began keeping track of all of his Cervantes references (any mention of Don Quixote always makes me smile) and wound up with 13:
Cervantes was a tax collector during the outfitting of the Armada.

And was imprisoned when his accounts did not balance.

...

Thomas Hobbes was born prematurely when his mother became hysterical at the approach of the Spanish Armada.

...

Shakespeare died in Stratford on April 23, 1616, a Tuesday.

Cervantes died in Madrid on April 23, 1616, a Saturday.

The difference being between the Julian calendar and the Gregorian. Cervantes died ten days earlier.

...

Then we will have Homer and Don Quixote, and then we will have saunter and chat, and one more laugh before we die.

Said William Cowper, who was mad through most of his life.

...

Erostratus burned down the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in 356 B.C., so that his name would be remembered through history.

One of those who remembered it was Cervantes, who lets Don Quixote tell Sancho Panza the story.

And that Alexander was born on the same night.

...

Captured by Moorish pirates at sea, Cervantes spent five years as a slave before being ransomed.

...

Once more before I die I will read Don Quixote, said Gissing.

...

El Caballero de la Triste Figura.

...

Cervantes is buried at a convent in Madrid, though exactly where in its cemetery is not known. Nor is there a known portrait of him.

...

Salvador de Madariaga propounds strongly suggestive evidence that Cervantes may have been a Sephardic Jew.

...

Jane Austen. Anne Bradstreet. Cervantes.

...

Pierre Menard.

...

A Christ of our neighborhood, Ortega called Don Quixote.

4 comments:

OmbudsBen said...

Amcorrea,

Your about page has helped trigger a post and some replies about Walker Percy and his triadic theory, among other notions -- I'm drafting it now. Just wanted to let you know, in case you want to stop by. We share many writers in common. I'll post on Percy in the next few days, and link to you.

I hope you're doing well,
Ben

amcorrea said...

Thanks! I look forward to reading it. Someday I do plan on discussing that essay of his here. I think it's fascinating and still very relevant today.

Sylvia said...

I didn't know about the calendar difference between Spain and England. So Cervantes and Shakespeare died on the same date, but not the same day!

amcorrea said...

Exactly. It's still pretty interesting, though.