Mar 8: A bad one

From Don Quixote today, and all the "dosts" of the translation make your head spin. It's one of those passages where you read a paragraph without having any idea what they mean, hoping that, in the next couple of paragraphs, someone will refer to something that's happened, and, somehow, you can triangulate your way to understanding. That's what this passage is like.

Here's what the Daily Reading Guide promises:

8 Dangerous Experiment with a Wife
Anselmo and Lothario were close friends. Anselmo, anxious to learn if his wife were perfect, as he believed her to be, makes an unusual proposal to his old friend.

Spicy! Here's what it's like in practice:

And presupposing that nothing which thou shalt say to me shall be available to hinder my design, or dissuade me from putting my purpose in execution, I would have thyself, dear friend Lothario, to provide thee to be the instrument that shall labour this work of my liking, and I will give thee opportunity enough to perform the same, without omitting anything that may further thee in the solicitation of an honest, noble, wary, retired, and passionless woman.
Not spicy! It's like being entombed in Cream of Wheat.


And what's worse, the whole reading is just setup. It takes pages and pages of Cream of Wheat to accomplish this: Anselmo bitches about his happiness, because how does he know his wife really loves him, or is it she's just too sheltered and doesn't know any better? So you, Lothario, my best friend, see if you can seduce her. Lothario, sensibly, says that this is stupid. That's it. It takes nine pages. I have a feeling it won't turn out well, but as these characters take the description "all talk" to the 110% logical extreme I don't really care.

3 comments:

Nathan said...

I can hardly believe, from reading the aforementioned passage, that Don Quixote is one of those texts that has stood the test of time, and can truly offer people in modern times anything of substance other than a major migraine headache.

Delicious said...

I know! I think it's the translations -- they were probably dated already in 1910, because I think Collier's only used public domain ones. And I imagine that the 1910 audience was more willing to put up with the "dost"s and "doth"s.

Nate Bouchard said...

The premise of the whole scene sounds implausible too. It just sounds like a horrible Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson/random good looking blonde actress movie, where Owen Wilson hires Ben Stiller to try to sleep with his wife, played by the random good looking blonde actress. Ben Stiller is hesitant, but capitulates after Owen Wilson threatens him with some sort of blackmail (hilarity ensues, el oh el).

Instead of Ben Stiller telling Owen Wilson the idea is stupid, he falls in love with Owen Wilson's wife, the random blonde actress.

formulaic, boring tripe... yawn...