lunes, 23 de agosto de 2010

Don Quijote de la Mancha #5

Estoy releyendo el Quijote como parte de un readalong organizado por Stu de Winstonsdad's Blog./I'm rereading the Quixote as part of a readalong hosted by Stu of Winstonsdad's Blog.

El capítulo XXI de Don Quijote empieza con una suerte de "identidad equivocada": don Quijote se confunde la bacía de un barbero andante con el famoso "yelmo de Mambrino", y la obtiene del barbero como botín de guerra.  El capítulo XXV termina con una escena que hace hincapié en otro tipo de desorientación de identidad: obsesionado con su amor por Dulcinea, don Quijote finge estar loco en imitación de las enfermedades del amor sufridas por Amadís de Gaula.  En medio, hay otra equivocación clásica: la "aventura de los galeotes", donde el  llamado Caballero de la Triste Figura (el apodo de don Quijote recién inventado por Sancho) da la libertad a unos presos vigilados por los soldados del rey.  Dadas todas estas imágenes de "desorden", hagamos un alto de unos minutos para mirar como Cervantes despliegue todos sus recursos en cuanto al retrato del narrador.  Primero, hay la broma que sigue funcionando acerca de la creencia de DQ que el escritor de su historia tendría que ser un "sabio" (I, XXI, 200).  Una broma obvia tal vez, pero de tono amistoso.  Más interesantemente, hay aquello de los narradores multiples de nuevo.  Como leemos en algún momento:

Cuenta Cide Hamete Benengeli, autor arábigo y manchego, en esta gravísima, altisonante, mínima, dulce e imaginada historia, que, después que entre el famoso don Quijote de la Mancha y Sancho Panza, su escudero, pasaron aquellas razones que en el fin del capítulo veinte y uno quedan referidas, que don Quijote alzó los ojos y vio que por el camino que llevaba venían hasta doce hombres a pie, ensartados como cuentas en una gran cadena de hierros, por los cuellos, y todos con esposas a las manos" (I, XXII, 202).

Aunque no es la primera vez que "Cervantes", o el segundo narrador, ha sido culpable de hacer el vivito en cuanto a Cide Hamete Benengeli, o el primer narrador, véase como describe la historia como una cosa imaginada.  ¡Qué descarado este tipo!  Por supuesto, lo mejor del caso acerca del todo esto que tiene que ver con el narrador ficticio es que también se extiende a otros "narradores" dentro del narrativo.  De hecho, uno de mis personajes favoritos dentro de toda la novela es el preso Ginés de Pasamonte, que pasa su tiempo libro escribiendo una autobiografía minuciosa que él dice es tan bueno "que mal año para Lazarillo de Tormes y para todos cuantos de aquel género se han escrito o escribiere".  ¿Por qué es tan bueno el libro?  "Lo que le sé decir a voacé es que trata verdades, y que son verdades tan lindas y tan donosas, que no pueden haber mentiras que se le igualen" (I, XXII, 208). Como si los enlaces entre la autobiografía de este personaje ficticio, la novela picaresca de Lazarillo de Tormes y otros de ese jaez, y la propia historia imaginada de don Quijote no fuesen tan ricos en si mismos, Cervantes hace un golazo al fin de este ensayo sobre la verdad y las mentiras: don Quijote le pregunta a Ginés si su La vida de Ginés de Pasamonte está acabado.  "¿Cómo puede estar acabado", responde Ginés, "si aún no está acabada mi vida?"  ¡Una pregunta acertada!
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Chapter 21 of Don Quixote begins with a sort of "mistaken identity": Don Quixote confuses the shaving basin of a traveling barber for the famous "helmet of Mambrino," and seizes it from the barber as war booty.  Chapter 25 ends with a scene that emphasizes another type of identity confusion:  Don Quixote claims to be so madly in love with Dulcinea that he actually feigns madness in conscious imitation of Amadís of Gaul's own lovesick ways! In between, there's another classic blunder on display: the "adventure of the galley slaves," where the so-called Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance (the newish nickname for DQ that Sancho came up with) frees a bunch of prisoners being marched across Spain by the king's soldiers.  Given all these images of "disorder," let's stop here for a moment to take a look at how craftily Cervantes unveils a full bag of tricks regarding the portrayal of the narrator.  First of all, there's the running joke having to do with Don Quixote's belief that the author of his history would have to be a "wise man" or sage (I, XXI, 161).  A little obvious perhaps but all in good fun.  More interestingly, there's that whole bit about the multiple narrators again.  As we read at one point:

It is recounted by Cide Hamete Benengeli, the Arabic and Manchegan author, in this most serious, high-sounding, detailed, sweet, and inventive history, that following the conversation between the famous Don Quixote of La Mancha and Sancho Panza, his squire, which is referred to at the end of chapter XXI, Don Quixote looked up and saw coming toward him on the same road he was traveling approximately twelve men on foot, strung together by their necks, like beads on a great iron chain, and all of them wearing manacles (I, XXII, 163 [translated by Edith Grossman]).

Although this isn't the first time that "Cervantes," or the second narrator, has been guilty of being a smart aleck regarding Cide Hamete Benengeli, or the first narrator, take note of how he refers to the history as an "inventive" one here.  Not to beat up on Grossman again but in the original Spanish, Cervantes actually refers to this as an imaginada historia: an imagined or an invented history or story.  What a cheeky guy!  Of course, the best thing of all about all this fictitious narrator stuff is that it extends to other "narrators" within the script.  In fact, one of my favorite characters in the entire novel is the prisoner Ginés de Pasamonte, who spends his free time writing an extremely detailed autobiography that he says is so good "that it's too bad for Lazarillo de Tormes and all the other books of that genre that have been or will be written."  Why is it so good?  "What I can tell your grace is that it deals with truths, and they are truths so appealing and entertaining that no lies can equal them" (I, XXII, 169).  As if the links between the autobiography of this fictional character, the picaresque literature of Lazarillo de Tormes and its ilk, and Don Quixote's own imagined history weren't rich enough in themselves, Cervantes brings about a stellar conclusion to this workout on truth and lies by having Don Quixote ask Ginés if his The Life of Ginés de Pasamonte is finished yet.  "How can it be finished," Ginés replies, "if my life isn't finished yet?"  Good question!

La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes, y de sus fortunas y adversidades (1554)

6 comentarios:

  1. I like the prisoner too ,cervantes has a real talent at creating minor charcaters and fleshing them out so they leap of the page ,all the best stu

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  2. *Stu: I like most of Cervantes' minor characters, too. Find Cardenio a little boring at times, though (partly because of that, I have a translation-related post coming up next). Am trying to clear my reading slate for next month so I can catch up already!

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  3. I know you weren't a big fan of Auster's New York Trilogy, but surely you enjoyed the part about the dual Quijote narrators and the further layers of meta? I was laughing out loud. Good to get a glimpse into the original passage, which is already pretty meta...

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  4. A perceptive post. In DQ we find layer upon layer of complexity. But if you miss the clues, the book is still marvellous entertainment.

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  5. Richard, I like how you tied up into a theme the multiple threads in this "imaginative history." My translator calls Don Q "Knight of the Sorry Face," a title he defended in a preface. Again I find the differing word choices of Grossman and Rutherford very interesting. Not one adjective matched in the phrase "most grave, grandiloquent, meticulous, delightful and imaginative history" and in Ginés's reply, "What I can tell you is that it deals with facts, and that they’re such fine and funny facts no lies could ever match them." This reply applies with the fine and funny incidents in this book. Near the end of Part I (chap. XLVII), another character has a long discurso on "fictional stories" and on what constitutes perfect writing. The reply is replayed as: "the more a lie looks like the truth the better a lie it is, and the more feasible it is the more it pleases us."

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  6. *Emily: It's been a while, but I remember liking Auster's ideas more than his writing. So the twin Quijote and the "William Wilson" Poe things would have been cool and something about the writing must have just rubbed me the wrong way. I'll give him another shot with part two of City of Glass eventually, though!

    *Tom: Thanks and excellent point about the "marvelous entertainment." All the meta stuff in the novel would be pointless without that going for it!

    *Rise: Thanks, as always, for the kind words and the translation comparisons! I think Grossman usually translates DQ's nickname as "the Knight of the Sad Face" or "the Knight of the Sorrowful Face," but I still prefer the old-fashioned "the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance" which I first read in Burton Raffel's translation years ago if I'm not mistaken. Of course, all of these are "right" in their own ways and "wrong" in the sense that Sancho was getting at how pathetic DQ looked after his adventures rather than how sad he looked in the way we usually think of it. More importantly, I LOVE your reference to the "fictional stories"/perfect writing discurso near the end of part I because it's such a great theme and because it's such a great example of how Cervantes recycles his riffs over and over again throughout the novel. Now I just need to catch up with everybody else--my goal for September. Cheers!

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