The Knight with the Sorrowful Face is still fighting for human values.
In 2016 we celebrate [what a bad label] the 400th anniversary of the deaths of two grand writers of our Western civilization: “the Bard” and “el Manco” (the one-armed man).
Miguel de Cervantes was born on September 29, 1547, in Alcala de Henares, Spain, and passed away on April 22,1616 in Madrid. In 1569 he served as a butler for a Roman cardinal and then joined the army. In 1571 he valiantly fought at Lepanto where he lost the use of his left arm. In 1575 pirates took him captive and he spent five years in an Argel’s prison.
He went back to Spain, married a younger woman and worked as a taxman. He was heavily indebted, went to prison for fraud and was excommunicated. One Sunday he shamelessly flirted with the fair niece of a Castilian town’s mayor at mass, which created a big scandal; he was shoved to prison where he supposedly started to write the very first draft of “Don Quijote de la Mancha.” The lady discreetly bailed him out and he paid her back with loving aplenty. In 1605 he completed the 664 pages-first part, which was an instant success.
Don Quijote, a cadaverous knight that can see what others cannot, and Sancho Panza, an earthy sidekick that is a paradigm of devotion, ride in the dusty Castilian roads, showing us a realist kaleidoscope of their society. In spite all the malevolent forces arrayed against him, Don Quijote, inspired by his lady Dulcinea del Toboso, fights for the values of loving and hoping that we must conserve as intelligent beings living in communities.
“Don Quijote” became the archetype of the Idealist in our Western culture. It seems that Shakespeare read it when he helped John Fletcher write the lost play of “Cardenio” .
In his deathbed, Don Quijote tried to openly recant from all his maddening obsessions. “What makes you talk like that,” said Sancho Panza, “just when we received news that lady Dulcinea is disenchanted? Say no more, in Heaven’s name.”
Don Quijote keeps riding on to rid us of our miserly meanness, mendacity and mediocrity.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.