Saturday, May 28, 2005

I tried to explain the postmodern aspects of Don Quixote to R. a few nights back and managed in the process to thoroughly confuse her. Perhaps this summation might to the trick:

For readers whose tastes run to the postmodern, "Don Quixote" has got you covered. The novel's text is presented as having been written in Arabic by a scribe named Cide Hamete Bengali, then translated into Spanish by an unnamed translator in the Toledo market where a fictionalized Cervantes is said to stumbled across the mysterious manuscript. Published by the real Cervantes, the runaway success of the novel's first part inspired a fraudulent sequel. This led an outraged Cervantes to publish a Part Two of his own, in which Don Quixote and Sancho Panza have become famous through the publication within their fictional world of Part One. The characters they meet in Part Two are thus familiar with both Don Quixote's delusion and Sancho Panza's complicity in it, and one pair of loyal fans go so far as to fabricate a world of knight errantry within their castle on his behalf. Either Don Quixote steps out of their favorite novel and into their real lives (which are, of course, fictional), and they in turn re-create the world of his favorite novels around him; or else the readers themselves have stepped into the novel they had been reading, in the novel you are reading; or both. Got that?

--J. Daniel Janzen in Flak Magazine

Of course, this explanation doesn't mention that the Bengali was written, translated, and read by everyone in the month's time between the ending of Part One and the beginning of Part Two . . .

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