Thursday, August 28, 2014

Writers on Reading


from The History of That Ingenious Gentleman 

Don Quijote de la Mancha

In a word, Don Quijote so buried himself in his books that he read all night from sundown to dawn, and all day from sunup to dusk, until with virtually no sleep and so much reading he dried out his brain and lost his sanity.  He filled his imagination full to bursting with everything he read in his books, from witchcraft to duels, battles, challenges, wounds, flirtations, love affairs, anguish, and impossible foolishness, packing it all so firmly into his head that these sensational schemes and dreams become the literal truth and, as far as he was concerned, there were no more certain histories anywhere on  earth.  He'd explained that Cid Ruy Diaz had been a very good knight, but simply couldn't be compared to the Knight of the Flaming Sword, who with one backhand stroke had cut in half two huge, fierce giants.  He liked Bernardo del Carpio even better . . . But the knight he treasured above all others was Renaldo de Montalban, especially when he could be found riding out of his castle and robbing everyone he met, or when he travelled across the ocean to steal the idol of Mohammad,

Indeed, his mind was so tattered and torn that, finally, it produced the strangest notion a madman had ever conceived, and then considered it not just appropriate but inevitable.  As much for the sake of his own greater honor as for his duty to the nation, he decided to turn himself into a knight errant, travelling all over the world with his horse and his weapons, seeking adventures and doing everything that , according to his books, earlier knights had done, righting every manner of wrong, giving himself the opportunity to experience every sort of danger, so that, surmounting them all, he would cover himself with eternal fame and glory.  (p 10)

Don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.  Burton Raffel, trans. W. W. Norton & Company, 1995 (1605)


Brian Joseph said...

If one would HAVE to go mad, I think that Don Quijote's way is the way to do it.

James said...

Reading can become a mania, if you let it.