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Don Quixote by Peter Bolton

No figure in fiction captures the spirit of the true poet as Don Quixote does. (Hamlet was a poet-prince so things came much too easy for him, like writing poetry on an everlasting grant, despite the pitfalls of that vision.) But not the Don. On he went—his sad countenance on a horse—alone against all odds. Giants? Why fear them despite defeat. Ridicule? Who was to judge. Don Quixote knew his calling and followed his quest. No poet has fought against obstacles, real and imaginary, as bravely as he has; no one could imagine so much, so greatly; not one of them could love friend or maiden as he did. (Romeo’s affair was mere infatuation compared to the Don’s quest for Dulcinea.) No poet—perhaps no hero—has tried harder against so many impossible tasks. And still he trots on the latest best-seller lists[1], unafraid of younger knights. To think some tried to save him. (When they searched the Don’s library to burn the books of chivalry that had caused his “illness” they were also wise enough to consider burning his books of poetry):

“These, as I take,” said the curate, “are not books of knighthood, but of poetry.”

“Oh, good sir,” quoth Don Quixote his niece, “your reverence shall likewise do well to have them also burnt, lest that mine uncle, after he be cured of his knightly disease, may fall, by the reading of these, a humour of becoming a shepherd, and so wander through the woods and fields, singing of roundelays, and playing on a crowd; and what is more dangerous than to become a poet? Which is, as some say, an incurable and infectious disease.”[2]

No. You cannot imagine what might have happened then.


[1]Don Quixote, appears in fifth place on the December 4, 2004 bestseller list compiled by ABC (a national newspaper in Spain).

[2]Don Quixote, Chapter VI, “On the Pleasant and Curious Search Made by the Curate and the Barber of Don Quixote’s Library”.

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