Thursday, August 24, 2006

Need a high-brow diversion?

To file in the 'Really only tenuously related to Puritanism but interesting nonetheless' folder:

Just recently I've discovered (for myself) a literary gem which was not only crowned the 'best work of fiction ever written' by a majority of modern authors polled in 2002, but which was penned by a contemporary of Perkins, Ames and Sibbes, and released during Puritanism's Stuart heyday. Those of you with a bit more 'culcha' will know I'm talking about Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote of La Mancha, a lengthy satire describing the adventures of an elderly, self-appointed 'knight errant' who roams about looking for wrongs to right in homage to his beloved 'Dulcinea'. It was published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615.

Don Quixote is unique, say literary scholars, because it bridged the gap between ancient and modern literature, combining a traditional formula (chivalrous odyssey) with heavy doses of modern irony and psychological subtlety. Some say it was the first modern novel.

Anyway, I wanted to share this because my wife and I bought tickets to see the ballet version of Don Quixote recently, and to ensure we didn't show up on the night without a clue about its plot, we actually started reading it. And in spite of our Southern roots (we're both from Texas, i.e., low on the 'culcha' scale) we like it. Mind you, we're only a few chapters into its 940 pages, but we're enjoying the ride. Perhaps you would too.

Be aware there are some modern English translations of the Spanish original, like this one -- and online ones too (why not?). So unless you're a martyr or a brilliant wielder of la lengua de los cielos, you needn't read an archaic English or Spanish version. Also be aware this classic may not be appropriate for younger readers, as it contains some 'adult situations'.

Lastly, I have to mention that the Cervantes Project, dedicated to preserving information on the life and work of this novelist, poet and playwright, is housed at my illustrious alma mater! Maybe the Lone Star State does have some 'culcha' after all ...


Kenny Wells said...


I just read the post, and it's made me want to buy Don Quixote and put it in my books-to-read box. I know of a missionary who read it and has used it for sermon illustration material when preaching to hispanic congregations.

I hope that you enjoy the ballet as well! I must admit, although I'm just finishing my undergraduate music degree, that I'm quite ignorant when it comes to ballet. I'd like to hear how it goes.

Oh, and thanks for the link! I just noticed my name on the page today when I dropped in.


H.C. Ross said...

Hey Bro. Kenny,

Thanks for the comment. We've had some belly-laugh moments reading Don Quixote already, though like I said, the thing is HUGE! One bite at a time, I guess. I think Cervantes is the Shakespeare or Homer of Spanish culture -- I'm not surprised to hear of it being used to build bridges for the gospel.

We saw the ballet last Saturday. I have to say: 'What's with all the dancing?' (haha) Actually, that was my initial 'layman's' impression of it. It seemed like a series of solo and group dances, with the outline of the plot of Don Quixote loosely tying it all together. But on reflection I realized a ballet is meant to showcase the dancers themselves, so that's what one should expect.

Having said that, the sets used onstage were amazing. It was a very emotional deal. It brought out the melancholy aspects of the story. If I were the sensitive type I might have cried. But I'm not -- not in those kinds of situations, anyway :)

It's my pleasure to be linked to your blog. Don't mention it.

Keep on rockin'!


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