No Spanish class would be complete without discussing the birth of modern literature. And the effect that it has had on the world since its first publication. Don Quijote is considered one of the modern world's best pieces of literature. It is esteemed by many to be one of the most important bodies of work in western literature. It covers the tale of Alonso Quijano who goes mad by reading too many books about valiant knights. He goes mad enough to begin believing that he himself is a knight. He gives himself the name Don Quijote and sets forth on his mission to make the world a better place, as is the mission and quest of all errant knights.
Here is a very entertaining summary of the story. Give this a quick watch before we go on.
Written by Miguel de Cervantes written in two parts in 1605 and 1615, it sparked something in the minds of other authors, and has inspired a lot of other works of art. We won't go to a lot of detail here, but we will talk about key points and the inspiration behind the wonderful knight errant.
Don Quijote and the Windmills
After Don Quijote finds a fair maiden to fight for, and a squire to enable his lunacy, he sallies forth to adventure. He comes across a number of giants, he explains them in detail to Sancho, his squire. Sancho is unable to see the giants for the windmills, he tries to talk sense into his master, but he can't get thru to him. Don Quijote grips his lance and charges the swinging giants. Upon arriving and attacking, he is swiftly unhorsed and reveals to Sancho that just as he attacked, a wizard turned the giants into Windmills because he knew the giants stood no chance against such a brave noble knight.
Don Quijote with the Golden Helmet of Mambrino
Another fun moment at the expense of our crazy hero, is when he sees a barber (who in those times not only shaved customers, but were also dentists) shaving a customer. The barber is using a metal basin of gold coloring to catch the shaving cream and hair from his customer. (The basin has a brim and a cut out space for where the users neck is placed.) Don Quijote sees this basin and recognizes it as a sacred golden Helmet, and he must have it to complete his armor ensemble. He battles the barber and wins the helmet. This is a key part to his iconic look.
The most popular "other" work that was inspired by Cervantes' novel is the musical that is called "The Man of La Mancha." This inspiring piece of work is what has kept the story of Don Quijote alive in North America. The USA is the birthplace and home of musical theater, and being so, it is a good place to keep the timeless story, and a good way to make it accessible to younger audiences who may be thrown off by the original baroque text. Be sure to watch both videos, you need only watch the first five minutes or so of the first, but the second video is the same song in Spanish, this will be an assignment later on, so give it a listen.
Don Quijote, a fictional character, has left a non fictional footprint on the world. He is the most influential fictional character in the world. There is a reason that his story still hangs around today. It is a timeless tale that shows us all that a little crazy can be a very good thing.
I hope you all have enjoyed this brief introduce into the story of Don Quijote de La Mancha! Just remember one thing as we jump in to reading excerpts in class...
Sometimes the right amount of crazy can change the world!
Dare to dream the impossible dream by visiting these other sights to explore works of art that Quijote inspired, and common themes throughout the book. We will discuss them when we dive into the text.