Don Qwhotie?

Never could get into the book myself. It's about mocking the best thing in the world, although I'm told that if you stick with it it gets better: the fools brought on board in the early part become increasingly attached to the thing worth upholding at any cost, though the Don who held it so high finally loses heart. Stories about losing heart in such men break mine, for they are so easy to believe. It is the worst danger of the world, that you might cease to believe in the things worth dying for.


Tom said...

The author was a soldier and combat veteran, but in his day apparently it became all the rage for men who'd never been knights or seen combat to pretend to knighthood. I think the books are more making fun of the culture of pretense than the culture of chivalry, the way infantry soldiers today might make fun of Chairborne Rangers and such. As a bonus, some pretty funny barbs are aimed at historians and scholars as well.

I didn't finish the books; at some point in the latter half of the first book it started to seem redundant. There were new situations, but it was the same old schtick. I put it down, intending to come back to it, and didn't.

Tom said...

Reviewing the Wikipedia entry on Cervantes, he was a Spanish marine.

Grim said...

...the way infantry soldiers today might make fun of Chairborne Rangers and such.

That's mostly in good fun, given that the people who served in any capacity represent so small a percentage of the American population. What really matters is whether you were there, or whether you weren't. Even if you did nothing but film stories about what other soldiers were doing, you were under fire and in danger of IEDs every time you went anywhere to do anything. (And, given the nature of the conflict, I met a few of those guys -- PAO soldiers -- who had Combat Action Badges).

Now one thing that isn't just in good fun is the mockery aimed at soldiers who managed to serve during the duration of the Iraq/Afghan wars and never deployed. From time to time you hear serious talk about how those soldiers should be placed under some sort of disability regarding promotions and what not, for not carrying their weight during wartime.

Another thing that's interesting is watching 1/4 ID ban combat patches. The issue is that we've got new soldiers now who haven't served, and just may never earn a combat patch -- but all their leadership has the right to wear one. Since lower-enlisted always make up the bulk of the force, we are transitioning to a time unlike any since the end of Vietnam, in which you'll have a bunch of hardened combat veterans leading whole units of guys who have never been anywhere. 1/4 SBCT's commander thinks morale will be improved if he camouflages that difference by stripping the patches so it's not cosmetically obvious who has been and done, and who hasn't.

But of course, it will still be obvious.

Tom said...

Yeah, but I think Cervantes is making fun of men who never served at all but went around acting like they had. My analogy was off. I guess the idea of "stolen valor" would be better, but the story is a comedy; Cervantes isn't calling individuals on it, he's just making fun of them.

In the story, Don Quixote reads a bunch of romantic stories about chivalry and just decides one day to hammer together some armor and hit the road looking for damsels to rescue and knights to fight. He doesn't bother to actually do any kind of training, or anything that would realistically lead to becoming a capable knight. He sees himself at the beginning of the story as already the hero of one of the chivalric romances and that's where the humor comes in; he's utterly inept, but tells the story as if he's a great hero on a great quest.

Texan99 said...

I take him to have been fed up with a steady diet of histrionic, two-dimensional stories like "Amadis of Gaul," which is sort of understandable. But neither the original tradition nor his skewering of it is my cup of tea.

douglas said...

Thanks, especially to Tom. I've wondered for a while whether the point of the story was to promote chivalry or demean it. Now I understand.

It never seemed particularly interesting to me, but they say it might be the greatest modern novel ever. I don't know, it surely introduced or promoted techniques that have become popular in modernity, but having interesting techniques and having an interesting whole can be two very different things.

It's funny, Dad still loves to quote the opening lines which he memorized in his college days. In of-the-era Spanish.