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Don Quixote

Don Quixote: Part 2 of the Ingenious Gentleman, by Miguel de Cervantes

Between the publication of the first and second histories of “Don Quixote” approximately 10 years passed. During this time, a false history was published by one of Cervantes’s contemporaries, Allevaneda. It can be assumed that if Allevaneda had not published a false second part of “Don Quixote” then Cervantes would not have written the true history, “Don Quixote: Second Part of the Ingenious Gentleman.” Throughout the book, Cervantes attributes the credible history of Don Quixote to the acclaimed historian, Cide Hamete. Cide Hamete’s history of Don Quixote’s adventures is credible and true, whereas the history presented by Allevaneda is false. Allevaneda does not capture the madness and intelligence of Don Quixote, nor does he capture the wit of Quixote’s squire, Sancho Panza. In Allevaneda’s false history, Sancho is depicted as stupid, slovenly, and coarse. Another severe mistake is that in the false history, Don Quixote renounces the beauty of Princess Dulcinea of Toboso. In the true history, Cide Hamete makes it clear that Don Quixote will not renounce his lover’s beauty. Even when Don Quixote is defeated in a joust by the Knight of the White Moon (who is really Quixote’s friend, the bachelor, from home), Don Quixote chooses to quarantine himself in his house rather than renounce Dulcinea. This decision ultimately kills our hero. While quarantined at home, Don Quixote dies. During his last breaths, he drafts a will, and in his will he admits his insanity. He says that he will die a sane man, and he even instructs that his niece is not permitted to marry any man that enthusiastically reads tales about chivalry.

In this novel, Don Quixote is fully aware that a true history of his original adventures was published and circulated with popularity. He is also aware that a false history of his adventures was published. By making Quixote fully aware of the false publication, Cervantes is able to openly rebuke the false history, which I think is a clever strategy. While seeking adventures and pursuing Dulcinea of Toboso, Don Quixote meets many characters that have read about his adventures and were entertained by the tales. We learn that the true publication had some errors though. For example, it failed to explain how Sancho lost his donkey. While reading the first part, the reader must assume that Sancho’s donkey was stolen or lost at some point. However, the author does not tell the reader what happened. Sancho Panza clarifies this point during the second history recorded by Cide Hamete. It is also pointed out that Cervantes was criticized for including novellas within “Don Quixote: First Part of the Ingenious Gentleman.” Most significantly, Cervantes includes the story about the man who was too curious for his own good. Since he received such harsh criticism about these novellas, Cervantes limits the inclusion of novellas in “Don Quixote: Second Part of the Ingenious Gentleman.” The characters that Quixote meets tell much shorter tales that only consume a few pages at most.

At the opening of this novel, Don Quixote and Sancho decide that they will go to meet the Lady Dulcinea. When they reach her alleged city, Sancho fears that the lie he told Don Quixote in part one of the history will be discovered. In part one, Sancho Panza told his master that he delivered his letter to the Lady Dulcinea, when in reality Sancho did not. To avoid being discovered, the squire preys on Don Quixote’s madness. Sancho Panza crafts another lie, and he convinces Don Quixote that a group of peasant girls leaving the city are the Lady Dulcinea and her maidens. Unfortunately, the Lady and her maidens were transformed by the necromancer into ugly peasant girls. Quixote is enraged that the necromancer has stolen his Lady’s beauty.

After leaving Toboso, some of Don Quixote’s adventures include the following:

  • He meets a band of traveling performers, including Death itself.

  • The Knight of the Mirrors challenges Don Quixote to a duel, and Don Quixote emerges victorious. The knight was actually Quixote’s friend from home, the bachelor.

  • He fights a lion and is subsequently known as the “The Knight of the Lions” instead of “The Knight of the Sorrowful Face.”

  • He witnesses a deception, where a lover pretends to kill himself in order to marry the woman of his dreams. The woman is in the midst of marrying another man, but agrees to marry the lover before he dies. The lover inflicted a fake wound in order to trick the bride.

  • He descends into a cavern, where he falls asleep and has a dream-like underworld experience. He meets Montesinos and receives a vision about freeing the Lady Dulcinea from her enchantment.

  • He meets a puppeteer, who has a monkey that can tell fortunes. The puppeteer puts on play that angers Don Quixote, and the knight destroys the puppets with his sword. We discover that the monkey and the puppeteer are deceiving their clientele in order to make money.

  • While floating down the river on a boat, he mistakenly perceives mill workers as goblins.

  • He meets the Duke and Duchess who play many tricks on him.

  • He is presented as a fool in the Duke’s house during his bath, when the maiden leaves half his face unshaven.

  • He meets a traveling cartel, which was organized by the Duke and Duchess to deceive Don Quixote. Merlin, the great magician, is part of this cartel and tells Don Quixote that in order to break Dulcinea’s enchantment, Sancho Panza must voluntarily whip himself 3,000 times.

  • Sancho Panza becomes the governor of a community.

  • Sancho Panza demonstrates his wisdom while orchestrating the affairs of his community.

  • Sancho Panza is not permitted to eat, because he is told that the food is likely poisoned.

  • Don Quixote is attacked and marred by cats.

  • The Duke and Duchess arrange a final deception for Sancho Panza. They orchestrate a fake battle for Sancho to participate in. Upon the conclusion of the fight, Sancho Panza renounces his governship, because it is too much work and too stressful. He admits that he was not born for such responsibility.

  • Don Quixote and Sancho Panza leave the Duke and Duchess.

  • He is trampled by cattle.

  • He is trampled by swine.

  • He speaks with a talking head, which is a deception arranged by Don Antonio.

  • He is vanquished by The Knight of the White Moon, who is the bachelor playing a trick.

In summary, the events of Don Quixote’s history part 2 are less comical than the events presented in part 1, and they are more centered on deception. Additionally, I thought it was noteworthy that the squire, Sancho Panza, was wittier that the squire in part 1, and that he began to recognize his master’s foolishness.

By the time that I reached the end of the book, I was thoroughly tired of reading it and ready to be done. I was disappointed, because I heard many great reviews of the book. For me, it was a struggle to finish, and the length of the book did not help. It is about 1,000 pages long and seemed to drag endlessly. Perhaps it was the translation that made it difficult to read (I used Grossman’s translation)? Or perhaps it was that I was simply more interested in reading other books? Or perhaps it was because many of the literary jokes that were originally written in Spanish do not translate well into English, and consequently English readers miss much of the humor? Regardless, I was excited to finish, and I’m looking forward to reading the next books on my list.

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