By Chapter XXIV in Part I, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza have endured – among other ignominies – ridicule, blanket-bouncing, grievous injuries, and “the tempest of stones” (p. 172) with which the galley slaves repay their freedom. Despite the measured (or, as some have suggested, darker) opening of Part II, however, this week’s reading shows the hapless heroes of our tale the faces of success, abundance, and even a degree of respect. Once he has handily dispatched Bachelor Sansón Carrasco*, Don Quixote encounters the Knight of the Green Coat (also known as Don Diego de Miranda), who, following the adventure of the lions, invites the newly renamed Knight of the Lions to his home. In this “castle,” Don Quixote and Sancho Panza enjoy such food, conversation, company, and bounty as to render this encounter a perfect inverse of their experiences at the inn in Part I.
To his son, Don Diego confides, “I can only say that I have seen him do things worthy of the greatest madman in the world, and heard him say things so intelligent that they wipe out and undo his mad acts” (p. 569), an observation that rightly describes the waffling this reader experiences when contemplating Cervantes’ intent. Following his lengthy discussion with the Knight of the Lions, Don Lorenzo is as puzzled as his father. “Once again the father and son were astonished by the mixed speech of Don Quixote, sometimes intelligent and sometimes utterly foolish, and by the persistence and perseverance of his complete devotion to the search for his misadventurous adventures, which were the object and goal of all his desires” (p. 575).
Not long after their departure from Don Diego’s home, Don Quixote and Sancho Panzo meet the licentiate and Cochuelo and learn about yet another besotted shepherd. (Pastoral alert!) The fair (of course!) Quiteria, object of Basilio’s affections, is about to marry the much wealthier Camacho, and thus our knight and squire find themselves guests in the second generous and abundant setting of Part II. With nary an interpolated novel, miscreant (here’s looking at you, Don Fernando), or mistreated woman in sight, a ruse works, Don Quixote brandishes his lance, love prevails, and, contrary to Sancho’s gloomy grousing, the abundance continues in a third location.
What book is this? Following the remarkably benign (Arthurian-inspired?) dive into the cave, that was my chief question. What am I reading? And why does the relative success of these several “misadventurous adventures” worry me – in fact, fill me with foreboding? “All things are possible,” Don Quixote tells us on page 559, but we already know – spoiler alert – the hero dies. Will his successes, such as they are, continue, or will Carrasco end them?
Other notes and marginalia
“Señor, sorrows were not made for animals but for men; but if men feel them too much, they turn into animals; your grace should restrain yourself….” (p. 521)
“[T]here is more rashness than courage in a single man attacking an army that has Death in it, and emperors fighting in person, and the help of good and bad angels….” (p. 525)
“Every day, Sancho,” said Don Quixote, “you are becoming less simple and more intelligent.” (p. 527)
“I tell you, Sancho, with your natural wit and intelligence, you could mount a pulpit and go around preaching some very nice things.” (p. 590)
The sagacity of “good Sancho, wise Sancho, Christian Sancho, sincere Sancho” (p. 526) continues to grow – perhaps because the knight’s “conversation has been the manure that has fallen on the barren soil of [Sancho’s] dry wits” (p. 528). Or perhaps because the inversions at work here are not only in the knight’s fortune?
“[S]ince I am a devil, all things are within my grasp.” (p. 523)
The scenes featuring the cart of actors put me in mind of the Player and the Tragedians in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
“I love him with all my heart and couldn’t leave him no matter how many crazy things he does.” (p. 536)
Watson and Wilson could intone the same of Holmes and House, no? I was reminded of these dynamic pairings again on page 570, when Don Quixote described the “science” of knight errantry, a science that shares some characteristics with the art of detection.
“Certainly, Señor Sansón Carrasco, we’ve gotten what we deserved: it’s easy enough to think up and begin an enterprise, but most of the time it’s hard to end it. Don Quixote’s crazy, we’re sane, and he walks away healthy and laughing, while your grace is bruised and sad.” (p. 549)
“…I shall recount to you some of what I have seen down there, which will make you believe what have recounted here, whose truth admits neither argument nor dispute.” (p. 614)
And, yes, I remain fascinated by the uses and definitions of “true” and “truth” in this work.
* Are you a Parks and Recreation fan? For some reason, from the moment of Carrasco’s introduction in Part II, I was reminded of Justin Anderson, about whom Ron wisely observes, “He’s a tourist. He vacations in people’s lives, takes pictures, puts them in his scrapbook, and moves on. All he’s interested in are stories. Basically, Leslie, he’s selfish, and you’re not, and that’s why you don’t like him.”