Arrears blogging: April 18 -- Reading is bad for you

In resolution, he plunged himself so deeply in his reading of these books, as he spent many times in the lecture of them whole days and nights; and in the end, through his little sleep and much reading, he dried up his brains in such sort as he lost wholly his judgment.
First Faust, and now Don Quixote: the great authors seem to agree that getting way into books is a good way to go crazy. But where Faust was moody and changeable, Quixote is the same thing always -- the loser who thinks he's a winner, perhaps my favorite comic conceit, and one that almost always works because who doesn't like feeling superior to a character who doesn't realize that people are feeling superior to him?

What also always works is the physical comedy. This seems like a Mr. Bean sketch (and I should add that I don't really like Mr. Bean, except that as someone who's appallingly clumsy I often find myself in Mr. Bean-like situations while, e.g., making coffee):
for by reason his helmet was on, and his beaver lifted, he could put nothing into his mouth himself if others did not help him to find the way, and therefore one of those ladies served his turn in that; but it was altogether impossible to give him drink after that manner, and would have remained so for ever, if the innkeeper had not bored a cane, and setting the one end in his mouth, poured down the wine at the other: all which he suffered most patiently, because he would not break the ribbons of his helmet.
I like the idea that they missed a couple of times with the cane, too, thereby getting wine under the armor.

In the end, I think I would prefer it if Quixote got into Heaven ahead of Faust, even if they are equally full of book-begotten delusions of grandeur. Tragedy is as common as grad students, but fools suffer for their passions too, and with much less complaining.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting description of Quixote's character...the one modifier I would add is that although Quixote is a fool, he is a fool who genuinely suffers, and not just from pratfalls, punches, and other slapstick events.

His lovesickness is part of what makes him endearing, is what I'm trying to say. You couldn't say the same about the Three Stooges, I don't think.