Friday, April 29, 2011

Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry by Owen Barfield

Owen Barfield's classic text Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry (1957) figures centrally in Charlie Citrine's quest for meaning in life in Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift. Bellow's masterpiece makes several references to idolatry and appearances as well as many references to the anthroposophist Rudolph Steiner. These words are well defined in Barfield's text and it pays to familiarize oneself with it.

Barfield graduated from Oxford in 1921 and becdame an attorney, but was best known as a philosopher, but studied philosophy as a non-academic. He died in 1997 at the age of 99. Barield became an anthroposophist after attending a lecture by Rudolf Steiner in 1924. He studied the work and philosophy of Steiner throughout his life and translated some of his works, and had some early essays published in anthroposophical publications. A study of Steiner's basic texts provides information on some of the ideas that influenced Barfield's work, but Barfield's work ought not be considered derivative of Steiner's. Barfield is to Steiner as Steiner was to Goethe.

. Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development. More specifically, it aims to develop faculties of perceptive imagination, inspiration and intuition through cultivating a form of thinking independent of sensory experience, and to present the results thus derived in a manner subject to rational verification. In its investigations of the spiritual world, anthroposophy aims to attain the precision and clarity of natural science's investigations of the physical world. Anthroposophical ideas have been applied practically in many areas including Steiner/Waldorf education, special education (most prominently the Camphill Movement), biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophical medicine, ethical banking and the arts. The Anthroposophical Society has its international center at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland (see photo), designed by Steiner himself.

Steiner built upon Goethe's conception of an imaginative power capable of synthesizing the sense-perceptible form of a thing (an image of its outer appearance) and the concept we have of that thing (an image of its inner structure or nature). In Steiner's view, we can overcome the subject-object divide through inner activity, even though all human experience begins by being conditioned by it. In this connection, Steiner examines the step from thinking determined by outer impressions to what he calls sense-free thinking. He characterizes thoughts he considers without sensory content, such as mathematical or logical thoughts, as free deeds. Steiner believed he had thus located the origin of free will in our thinking, and in particular in sense-free thinking. Though not well-known among philosophers, his philosophical work was taken up by Owen Barfield (and through him influenced the Inklings, an Oxford group of Christian writers that included J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis) and Richard Tarnas.

Saving the Appearances. Saving the appearances is an expression that appears in the 8th book of Milton’s Paradise Lost:
Or if they list to try
Conjecture, he his fabric of the heavens
Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move
His laughter at their quaint opinions wide
Hereafter, when they come to model heaven,
And calculate the stars; how they will wield
The mighty frame; how build, unbuild, contrive,
To save appearances; how gird, the sphere
With centric and eccentric scribbled o’er,
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb.

The phenomena or appearances, that is, the apparent movement of the heavenly bodies, could be watched by observation. The true knowledge, since it was acquainted with the divine spirits who ensouled or guided the heavenly bodies, had already laid down certain fundamental principles, not derived from observation. It was for the science of astronomy to ‘save’ the ‘appearances’ , that is, the apparent movements of the heavenly bodies, by devising hypothetical patterns of movement, which would account for the appearances without infringing the fundamental principles. The real turning point in astronomy came when Copernicus began to affirm that the heliocentric hypothesis not only saved the appearances but was physically true.

The Rainbow. Barfield argues that the difference between a dream or a hallucination of, say, a rainbow and the sight of an actual rainbow is that—while they are both appearances -- the former is a private appearance, whereas the second is a shared representation. Barfield argues that three components make up an appearance, say, of a real tree: (1) the particles, or what he calls the unrepresented (atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons, or quarks) (2) a person's vision, and (3) other sense-perceptions. In the first chapter, he wants to establish that

“the familiar world which we see and know around us -- the blue sky with white clouds in it, the noise of a waterfall or a motor-bus, the shapes of flowers and their scent, the gesture and utterance of animals and the faces of our friends -- the world too, which (apart from the special inquiry of physics) experts of all kinds methodically investigate -- is a system of collective representations. The time comes when one must either accept this as the truth about the world or reject the theories of physics as an elaborate delusion” (p. 18).

Everything in the "world" -- everything that we mean by the "world" -- is a system of collective representations.

Collective Representations. Barfield argues that one of the most important tests in distinguishing between an appearance that is an illusion and a representation of what is real is to resort to judgments by fellow human beings. Our representations must be collective for them to be in any meaningful sense real. Barfield wishes to stress the difference between the collective representations on the one hand and the particles, or the unrepresented, on the other. He wants to establish that

“if the particles, or the unrepresented, are in fact all that is independently there, then the world we all accept as real is in fact a system of collective representation” (p. 20).

In chapter one, Barfield had argued that the particles, or the unrepresented, are the only things that exist independently of human consciousness. Before human beings came into existence, the unrepresented particles existed. But now that human beings exist, when our perceptual systems and our consciousness interact with the particles, a world is produced, which is the world of collective representations.

Figuration. The mind’s conversion of sense contact with the unrepresented into conscious perception requires another process which Barfield terms “figuration.” One does not hear undulating molecules of air, one hears sound; one hears, for example, a thrush singing. To experience that perception it is necessary to hear not with the ears alone but with “all sorts of other things like mental habits, memory, imagination, feeling and (to the extent at least that the act of attention involves it) will.” Without figuration, the familiar world of collective representations would be closed to the mind. Figuration makes thinking possible. Barfield distinguishes two ways of thinking: “alpha-thinking,” that is, thinking about the phenomena that figuration produces as if they were wholly objective and independent of one’s perception—the sort of thinking science generally attempts—and “beta-thinking,” that is, thinking reflexively about the processes of thinking. Through “beta-thinking” one discovers, for example, that the phenomena are not totally outside and independent of oneself. The book’s subsequent investigation into the relation between mind and matter proceeds from this epistemological base.

Participation. Barfield’s term for the interaction of the two is “participation,” a rather difficult concept to grasp in his thought since he uses it to refer to a changing, indeed evolutionary, process that must be grasped analogically. Original participation, the sort experienced by the primitive mentality, is very different from that which is common in the modern West. Citing the findings of anthropology as evidence, Barfield argues that primitive alpha-thinking was substantially different because figuration at that time was different. The primitive mind does not dissociate itself from phenomena—does not, that is, perceive itself as distinct from them, as modern people habitually do. Such a mind, in its act of original participation, perceives representations as synthetic wholes from which the percipient is not distinct, wholes that include an awareness which we no longer have, of an extra-sensory link between the percipient and the representations. This involves, not only that we think differently, but that the phenomena (collective representations) themselves are different.

Idolatry. Idolatry is the effective tendency to abstract the sense-content from the whole representation. Or stated differently (p. 143) idolatry is experiencing objects in their own right existing independently of human consciousness. Barfield refers (p. 176) to the Old Testament discourse on idolatry (from the 135th Psalm):

The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. they have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not: neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.

And Barfield offers (p. 161) his own commentary on it:

What the Psalmist wrote of the old idols is true no less of the idols of the twentieth century. "They that make them are like unto them." The soul is in a manner all things, and the idols we create are built into the souls of our children; who learn more and more to think of themselves as objects among objects; who grow hollower and hollower. In the long run we shall not be able to save souls without saving the appearances, and it is an error fraught with the most terrible consequences to imagine that we shall.

Barfield makes the point that (p. 112) Moses was angry with his people making idols when he returned with a system of laws from the mountain. He was angry with them for creating idols of gold because he was creating idols of words. The reason the name of God was so rarely spoken by the Jewish people was because the word itself was an idol. Kept in their secret heart of hearts, they took it out and spoke it only on the holiest of occasions.

Humboldt’s Gift. In Bellow’s novel, the protagonist, Charlie Citrine, tires of the splendid ‘veil’ of “appearances” distracting his vision. Refusing to look at the charming view of the French countryside outside his train window, he explains, “I rejected the plastered idols of the Appearances. These idols I had been trained, along with everybody else, to see, and I was tired of their tyranny. I even thought, The painted veil isn’t what it used to be. The damn thing is wearing out…..I was thinking of the power of collective abstractions, and so forth. We crave more than ever the radiant vividness of boundless love, and more and more the barren idols thwart this. A world of categories devoid of spirit waits for life to return” (HG pp. 16-17). These collective abstractions are, of course, Barfield’s collective representations.

Monday, April 25, 2011

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities by Delmore Schwartz

Saul Bellow creates a fictionalized version of American author Delmore Schwartz in his novel Humboldt’s Gift (1975). Readers interested in better understanding the context of Bellow’s masterpiece and the character of Von Humboldt Fleisher would do well to read Schwartz’s short stories. New Directions republished his short stories in 1978 under the title of his best known story. Schwartz examines the life of New York intellectuals in the Great Depression. Many of the stories contain thinly disguised avatars for the author. The White Horse Inn (photo) was a key hangout and still exists.

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities. Written in 1937, this short story appeared in an early issue of the Partisan Review, and is his best known piece, divided into 6 brief sections. It is based on his intense dissatisfaction with his own personal life, due to the failure of his parent's marriage. It opens in June, 1909, in Brooklyn, where his father is courting his mother “Rose” (p. 2), her actual name. They visit Coney Island, ride the merry-go-round, and eat at a restaurant where his father proposes, lifted up by the waltz that is being played (p. 8). They then go sit in front of a photographer and ultimately have their fortune told. Schwartz uses a clever technical innovation, he tells the story as if he is in a movie theater, the unborn son, watching newsreels unfold of his parent’s courting. At the conclusion of each section, there is an interruption in the “dream screen”, whether it be a break in the film, or the narrator’s multiple departures from the theater as a result of uncontrollable grief. In effect, the film ends in his conception.

When his father proposes in the restaurant, he shouts out “Don’t do it. It’s not too late to change your minds, both of you. Nothing good will come of it, only remorse, hatred, scandal, and two children, whose characters are monstrous” (p. 6). He tries to shut his eyes, but the film is unreeling in the theater of his mind. In the photo session, the photographer has trouble staging a photo that is “right” (p. 7), of course, the narrator knows there is no right in this pairing. In the final fortune-telling scene, an usher drags him out of the theater, telling him “Don’t you know that you can’t do whatever you want to do ?” (p. 8). The usher’s statement is given a central place in the story as if to say “how presumptuous yet inevitable that we should want to unwind the reel of our lives” (p. viii). The narrator awakes on his 21st birthday, his fortune has been foretold. It has been an anxiety dream, befitting of his well known insomnia. To have wished his parents not to marry is to have wished his own extinction.

America ! America ! The narrator now takes the name Shenandoah Fish in this second story about telling a story. He is an author, unable to write, who listens to his mother’s story about their neighbors, the Baumanns. He feels his loss of fluency as “a loss, or a lapse of identity” (p. 11). He feels that no one knows him, “I do not see myself. I do not know myself. I cannot look at myself truly” (p. 33). “He was not sure at any given moment whether the cruelty of the story was in his own mind or in his mother’s tongue” (p. 16). Because of his vocation as an author, Shenandoah “reflected upon his separation from these people, and he felt that In every sense he was removed from them by thousands of miles, or by a generation, or by the Atlantic Ocean. What he cared about, only a few other human beings, separated from each other too, also cared about” (p. 19). Yet he begins to doubt himself, “he began to feel that he was wrong to suppose that the separation, the contempt, and the gulf had nothing to do with his work” (p. 20). Ultimately, he realizes his own lassitude and indolence are equal to the Baumanns’.

The World is a Wedding. This story, written in 1947, is about Rudyard Bell (Paul Goodman in reality), fellow writer, and his circle that met in Washington Heights in northern Manhattan on Saturday nights and read his prose. Most of the characters are caricatures of intellectuals of the day, but this has been lost to the modern reader. The story was an act of revenge for their ill treatment of him. Presumably, Jacob Cohen is his alter ego in the story. Like Schwartz, it is implied that Cohen’s father was wealthy: “Jacob had refused to accept an allowance from his father” (p. 39) and “…strangers suffered the illusion that Jacob was a fabulous heir” (p. 82). There are egos flying during these Saturday night get-togethers, with epigrams like “The theatre in which your plays are performed….ought to be named, Posterity” (p. 40). Rudyard states “authors are superior to other human beings” (p. 52). When acquaintances ask Rudyard how he is making ends meet, he says “I am helping my father” (p. 57). “What is your father doing?”, then “My father is doing nothing!”, of course he’s been dead for 20 years.

The expression “The World is a Wedding” is based on the marriage of God and Nature. Jacob is reminded of Peter Breughel’s famous painting The Peasant Wedding (see image). Jacob points out the details of the painting, expounding on how it is a reflection of life.

The expression in vino veritas appears in this story (p. 77), well before Martin Amis pens it in Experience (see 10/24/10 post). Best lines: “I am not a failure because I never wanted to be a success” (p. 84) and “The best pleasure of all is to give pleasure to another being” (p. 89).

New Year’s Eve. This short story is horribly dated (1938), since the intrigue is based upon the caricatures of the New York intellectual cliques, especially the Partisan Review crowd, who are sardonically painted as very frail. These include the author (Shenandoah Fish); Gertrude Buckman, Schwartz’s 1st wife and PR book reviewer (Wilhelmina Gold); Dwight McDonald, PR editor (Grant Landis); William C. Barrett, Schwartz’s close friend, editor PR, wrote philosophical texts for non-experts (Nicholas O’Neil); F.W. DuPee, PR editor (Oliver Jones); and Lionel Abel, critic (Leon Berg). The death/rebirth issue is a regular feature of Schwartz’ stories and is revisiting at the opening “This secular holiday is full of pain because it is both an ending and a beginning” (p. 94). It is to be the year of the Munich pact (permitting Nazi Germany annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland), a foreboding of the next world war, inevitable and hopeless. Delia, Oliver’s wife, laments that she did not marry the man who courted her before Oliver, because of certain idiosyncrasies. She considers “…why should anyone have to pay for another human being’s childhood” (p. 106), meaning that we all carry baggage from our childhood that gets foisted on our adult relations. Best line – “[Sex] is different with everyone” (p. 107).

The Commencement Day Address. Dr. Isaac Duspenser seeks to épater les bourgeois, with pessimistic sentiments and a machine gun. A student calls out from the audience challenging his intellectual exhibitionism, yet he replies “Must I, too, pay for your childhood” (p. 121), an epigram that we saw in the previous story. Best line – “I see all History as a lovesick boy fumbling his sex in the darkness” (p. 120).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lectures on Don Quixote by Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov entered the U.S. in 1940. He was given a leave of absence from Cornell so that he could accept a visiting appointment at Harvard in the Spring semester of the academic year 1951-1952 (3c years before writing Lolita). Harry Levin taught a well-known course at Harvard on the novel. Nabokov took his place and they both agreed to cover Don Quixote. He delivered six lectures that were captured in book form in 1983, edited by Fredson Bowers, distinguished American bibliographer.

Guy Davenport's foreword is very insightful. Nabokov tore apart the novel before 600 students in Memorial Hall (photo), much to the horror and embarrassment of colleagues. Nabokov discovered that "professors had gentrified the cruel and crude old book into a genteel and whimsical myth about appearance and reality" (p. xiii). Nabokov's new reading was an event in modern criticism. Steady sentimentalization of the book is evidenced by modern connotations of the word "quixotic." It should mean hallucinated, self-hypnotized, yet now connotes admirably idealistic.

Nabokov came to learn the book is not what people think it is, especially with the interpolated novellas that impede the plotless plot. The book elicits cruel laughter. Cervantes' lifetime saw expulsion of the Jews and Moors. Spain kept gladiatorial slaughters in the arena long after the Roman Empire abandoned them. The national entertainment, the bullfight, sets Spain aside among civilized people even today. Nabokov wasted no time disabusing the students of any preconceived notions of knight-errantry. He drew detailed pictures of a windmill on the blackboard, and explained why a country gentleman might mistake them for giants, since they were an innovation in 17th century Spain. Nabokov sees that Cervantes created a character greater than the book from which he has wandered. Don Quixote remains a book of peculiarly Spanish cruelty. It was written in an age hen dwarfs and the afflicted were laughed at, when dissenters from official thought were burnt alive in city squares to general applause. Nabokov states "Don Quixote has been called the greatest novel ever written. This, of course, is nonsense" (p. 27).

Cervantistas have reacted bitterly to Nabokov's comments. I reproduce the opening paragraph of an article written by Catherine Kunce for the Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America (1993).

Many cervantistas will recall that Vladimir Nabokov famously objected to Don Quixote because of its “hideous cruelty —with or without the author's intent— which riddles the whole book and befouls its humor”. A more contemporary look at “hideous cruelty,” intentional or otherwise, may be in order here. While Don Quixote's inability to see the “real” Dulcinea does no harm to Aldonza Lorenzo, Humbert's disregard of the “real” Dolores enslaves a vulnerable and lonely pre-pubescent child and befouls the humor of Nabokov's Lolita. That Humbert's actions destroy Lolita psychologically is evidenced by his parenthetical recollection of her “sobs in the night —every night— the moment I feigned sleep”. Lolita sobs for good reason: Humbert himself admits that, to Lolita, he is “not a boy friend, not a glamour man, not a pal, not even a person at all, but just two eyes and a foot of engorged brawn”. Lolita's attempts to escape from those eyes and brawn only increase Humbert's rapacity: “thrusting my fatherly fingers into Lo's hair from behind, and then gently but firmly clasping them around the nape of her neck, I would then lead my reluctant pet to our small home for a quick connection before dinner”. Nabokov fans have tended to regard this rape of a resistant child as cavalierly as does his hero. The time has come to rethink the label of “hideous cruelty,” which is radically qualified by Nabokov's use, and abuse, of Cervantes.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Don Quixote of the Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

The First Part of The Delightful History of the Most Ingenius Knight Don Quixote of the Mancha was written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra in 1605 and first translated by Thomas Shelton in 1612. Cervantes was compelled to complete the Second Part after a spurious Second Part was published by Avellaneda in 1614, an admirer of Lope de Vega, Cervantes' rival. There is no consensus as to who Avellaneda was. The well known Harvard Classics edition (1910), translated by Shelton (1612), is limited to Part One (52 chapters spanning 4 books) and states that Part Two "is generally regarded as inferior." That was in 1910 - generally critics now agree that Part Two is more developed and deeper. Ironically, must editions of the book are either abridged (Parts I and II) or Part One only. Amis (The War Against Cliché) opines "While clearly an impregnable masterpiece, Don Quixote suffers from one fairly serious flaw - that of outright unreadability...Written in the day before novel-reviewing - indeed, in the days before novels - Don Quixote was probably never intended to be read in the modern manner: that is, straight through. Group or family recitations of a chapter a night were, in all likelihood, the most that Cervantes expected anyone to manage. His epic is epic in length only; it has no pace, no drive. An anthology, an agglomeration, it simply accrues. The question 'What happens next?' has no meaning, because there is no next in Don Quixote's world: there is only more."

Cervantes chooses to act the role of historian in the book, rather than novelist. The representation of authorship in the novel is intriguing, since Cervantes intercedes early in the book (1st Part, Book 2, Chap 1) explains how the history of the famed knight has been cut off at this point. In the first 8 chapters, mention is made of an anonymous chronicler: "Who doubts, in the ensuing ages, when the true history of my famous acts shall come to light, but that the wise man who shall write it....And, thou wise enchanter, whosoever thou beest, whom it shall concern to be the chronicler of this strange history..." (1st, 1, 2).

In his Moorish travels the author has discovered in Toledo an old manuscript written in Arabic by an historian named Cid Hamet Benengeli. Cervantes uses this as a device to ensure the objectivity of the storyteller, the author is a Moor, for an infidel would try very hard to understate the achievements of a Spaniard. This assures the reader that the history of Don Quixote is true and unexaggerated. "And if any objection be made against the truth of this, it can be none other that the author was a Moor; and it is a known property of that nation to be lying: yet, in respect that they hate us mortally, it is to be conjectured that in this history there is rather want and concealment of our knight's worthy acts than any superfluity; which I imagine the rather, because I find in the progress thereof, many times, that when he might and ought to have advanced his pen in our knight's praises, he doth, as it were of purpose, pass over them in silence; which was very ill done." In effect, the balance of Part I is based on the pretended discovery of a pretended translation of a pretended Arabian account. In the Burning of the Books chapter (1st, 1, 6) there is a reference made to "The Galatea of Michael Cervantes." The priest claims Cervantes is a friend of his, his book is clever but does not fulfill its potential. He saves the novel, expecting that the sequel Cervantes has promised will be published.

At the end of the book, Cervantes finds an aged physician who has found parchments with sonnets ad epitaphs in a leaden box. The final sentence gives hope to eager readers that a scholar has pieced together a manuscript "with the cost of many nights' watching and other great pains, and that he means to publish them, and also gives hope of a third sally made by Don Quixote" (1st, 4, 25).

The structure of the First Part is based on two quests or "sallies," the first solo by Don Quixote and the second with his squire Sancho Panza. These "adventures" comprise the most famous scenes from the novel (comprising 22/52 chapters) included in the first sally (the "castle" inn, knight dubbing, the whipped boy André, return and burning of the books) and second sally (conscription of Sancho Panza, attack of the windmills, duel with Biscainer, fight with the Yanguesian Carriers, mix up with Maritornes, flock of sheep episode, the funeral party, the fulling-mill hammers, Mambrino's helmet, and the galley slaves). I have described some of these in the post on Bellow's Henderson the Rain King. DQ and Sancho reach the Sierra Morena where DQ does penance in the wilderness and the balance of the novel is comprised of listening to inset tales or novellas. In some ways, the tales are most interesting and all revolve around lost love. Of course, DQ devotes all his knight-errantry to Aldonsa Lorenzo, whom renames Dulcinea del Toboso. Cynics claim that the epic length of the tales is a result of Cervantes running out of ideas for adventures.

Chrysostom's Tale. Chrysostom, a shepherd, has died of love for Marcela, beautiful daughter of a rich merchant (1st, 2, 4-6). She dresses as a shepherdess and toils in the fields. Marcela appears at the funeral and screams "I cannot conceive why, for the reason of being beloved, the party that is so beloved for her beauty should be bound to love her lover." Marcela's life as a shepherdess parallels DQ's life as a knight-errant. Both exemplify the nobility of free will overcoming society-dictated reality. While Chrysostom pines to death, DQ, equally unsuccessful in love, sublimates his frustration ans is inspired to accomplish immortal deeds.

Sancho's Tale. A simple but amusing tale, a gag, is told by Sancho in a manner which drives DQ crazy (1st, 3, 6). A goatherd was going with his flock where his eyes would never more behold the girl who had been unfaithful to him, Torralva. He came to the bank of the flood-swollen Guadiana River, which he could not cross. He saw a fisherman with a boat that could only take one man and a goat. He agrees to take the flock of 300, but it will take 300 trips. Sancho asks DQ to keep track of the number of trips. If he loses count, the story ends. "'Make account,' quothe Don Quixote, that thou has passed them all over; for otherwise thou will not make an end of passing them in a whole year's space.' 'How many,' said Sancho, 'are already passed over?' 'What a devil know I?' said Don Quixote." This is likely the funniest dialog in the book.

Cardenio's Tale. Cardenio’s Tale (1st, 3, 13) was later adopted by Shakespeare for a play of the same name. In brief, it is a story about Cardenio falling in love with Lucinda. Yet his friend, Don Fernando, isolates Cardenio from Lucinda, and marries her through some sleight of hand. Cardenio secretly watches the ceremony from a distant vantage point. Cardenio’s narrative presents problems because it is not exclusively his. He is not the only source for the story. His story is in part that of other characters in the book. The story is also fractured by the interrupted text presentation. Later, Dorothea relates details (1st, 4, 1) of the same story as she intersects with Cardenio’s tale by way of Don Fernando (she was a former lover, also shorted by the marriage to Lucinda). As different characters relate different aspects of the story, the skewed viewpoints offer a way for the reader to gather more of the facts than the individual characters have themselves. When Dorothea relates her knowledge of the wedding ceremony, Cardenio is shocked to hear that the letter that was found on Lucinda when she fainted at the wedding ceremony was a declaration in her hand that she was already Cardenio’s wife (in principle). Dorothea watched Fernando reading it. Hence, Cardenio is not fully apprised of his own tale until he hears Dorothea’s version. Finally, Don Fernando joins the others, and tells his own version of the story (1st, 4, 9).

The Novel of the Curious-Impertinent. As told by the curate at the Inn (1st, 4, 6-8), this tale is about Lothario and Anselmo and his wife Camella, a beautiful, rich, devoted and virtuous maiden. Anselmo desires to est his wife's virtue and wants Lothario to seduce her. Of course, despite Lothario's reluctance to follow through, he and Camilla ultimately fall for each other. Leonela, Camilla's assistant is bold about her own affair in the compound. Lothario mistakes Leonela's lover for another suitor to Camilla and reports this to Anselmo. Knowing Anselmo has returned and is spying on her, the two women stage a mock tragedy. Stabbing herself (superficially) she convinces Anselmo of her unimpeachable love. Eventually, Leonela's indiscretion shatters the fragile state of "affairs" amongst the two men and Camilla. Anselmo confronts Leonela about her behavior, and Camilla jumps ship for fear Leonela will spill the beans. Anselmo dies of melancholy upon hearing of his wife's departure.

This story tells of a man who depends entirely on tested experience as a way to determine truth. Anselmo is so persistent in demanding proof of his wife's virtue that he succeeds despite his deepest desires, in making her unfaithful. DQ would never submit his ideals to a test of the senses. He knows that an attitude of seeing-is-believing uncovers, not truths, but lies. Anselmo, an unfortunate cuckold dies, a victim to a faith which could not free itself from depending on tangible proofs.

The Captive's Tale. The so-called Captive’s Tale spans 7 chapters (1st, 4, 10-16) that take place at the Inn. Nabokov (Lectures on Don Quixote, p. 146) points out that the interpolated story unwittingly spans two “beavers” or luncheons served at the Inn, as apparently Cervantes lost track of his guest’s meal times. The “captive” and his Moorish lady friend arrive at the Inn, where he tells his tale. It is the story of Ruy Pérez of Viedma (name revealed in final chapter when he meets his long lost brother John), one of 3 sons who each chose among three callings according to their father’s wishes: “The Church, the Sea, or the Court” (1st, 4, 12). He became a soldier serving God and his king at the same time. He leaves his family in Castile and heads to Alicante where he boards a ship headed for Genoa. He joins the Duke of Alba's army in Flanders. He is captured at sea at Lepanto (name revealed in last chapter): “I leapt into the enemy’s vessel, the which falling off from that which had assaulted her, hindered my soldiers from following me; by which means I saw myself alone amidst mine enemies, against whom I could make no long resistance, they were so many. In fine, I was taken, full of wounds” (1st, 4, 12), then sent to Constantinople as a slave on the Turkish galleys. He and camarades are jailed in a special prison house called a bagnio, by Moors in Algiers, only to meet a beautiful woman, Zoraida, daughter of Aguimorato, whose villa overlooked the prison courtyard. As a young girl, she learned the ways of Christianity through a housekeeper. She sets up letter communications, frees the Christians, and escapes to Spain.

Historically, the Battle of Lepanto was in 1571 and allowed Spain and allies to defeat the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire. Cervantes fought in the battle and mentions his name in the text: the Captive says “Only one Spanish soldier, called such a one as Saavedra,…I would recount unto you things done by this soldier, which might both entertain and astonish you much more than the relation of my life” (1st, 4, 13). Cervantes took 3 gunshot wounds, 2 in the chest and one rendering his left arm useless. Based out of Naples (under Spanish control) for several years, he was captured on the seas by Algerian corsairs and spent 5 years in prison in Algiers before ransomed by his parents.

Knight of the Woeful Countenance. Sancho adorns DQ with this name (Knight of the Ill-favored Face in Shelton translation, Sad or Rueful Countenance in others) during the second sally (1st, 3, 5), which basically means "sad face." Careful readers will note that this is a result of lost teeth in the previous chapter (1st, 3, 4), not his mental state. DQ is hit by a rock in the jaw during the Sheep adventure. He asks Sancho to check his mouth "Yes, I pray thee, give me thy hand, and feel how many cheek teeth, or others, I want in this right side of the upper jaw." "'Well then,' quoth Sancho, 'you have in this nether part but two cheek teeth and a half; and in the upper neither a half, nor any; for all there is as plain as the palm of my hand.'" Presumably, cheek teeth are molars. In the next chapter, Sancho introduces him as "'...the famous Don Quixote of the Mancha, otherwise called the Knight of the Ill-favored Face.'...Don Quixote demanded of Sancho what had moved him to call him Knight of the Ill-favored Face" to which Sancho replied "'I stood beholding of you a pretty while by the taper light which that unlucky man carrieth, and truly you have one of the evil-favourdest countenances of late that I ever saw, which either proceedeth of your being tired after this battle, or else through the loss of your teeth.'"

DQ believes it was a sage rather than Sancho who came up with the name: "'This is not the reason,' said Don Quixote; 'but rather, it hath seemed fit to the wise man, to whose charge is left the writing of my history, that I take some appellative name...'"

Don Quixote's mole. Dorothea enquires about the knight-errant, whose name she can't remember (1st, 4, 3). Dorothea pretends her father said "'that he should be high of stature, have a withered face, and that on the right side, a little under the left shoulder, or thereabouts, he should have a tawny spot with certain hairs like to bristles.' Don Quixote, hearing this, said to his squire, 'Hold my horse hear, son Sancho, and help me to take off mine apparel; for I will see whether I be the knight of whom the wise king hath prophesied.'" Is Cervantes making a mountain out of a mole? According to Hodges, in the Muslim tradition, the seal of the prophet is sometimes interpreted as a physical seal in the form of a mole on Muhammad's back.

Best Lines. I was curious when I saw the expression "as they say, out of the frying-pan, into the fire" (1st, 3, 4). Later in the book: "What ails you, good madam ? I pray you think if it be any of those inconveniences to which women be subject" (1st, 4, 9) may be the first reference to menstruation in the western canon of literature !

Sancho's Wife Ain't Buying it ! The final scene in the book (1st, 4, 25) involves the return of the knight-errant and squire home. This is the most amazing corollary to the plight of the modern entrepreneur's wife you could hope to imagine ! Sancho's wife cuts to the quick:

At the news of this his arrival, Sancho Panza's wife repaired also to to get some tidings of the good man; for she had learned that he was gone away with the knight, to serve him as his squire; and as soon as ever she saw her husband, the question, she asked him was, whether the ass were in health or no ?

Sancho answered that he was come in better health than his master.

'God be thanked,' quoth she, ' who hath done me so great a favour; but tell me now, friend, what profit hast thou reaped by this thy squireship ? What petticoat hast thou brought me home ? What shoes for thy little boys ?'

'I bring none of these things, good wife,' quoth Sancho; 'although I bring other things of more moment and estimation.'

'I am very glad of that,' quoth his wife: 'show me those things of more moment and estimation, good friend I would fain see them, to the end that this heart of mine may be cheered, which hath been so swollen and sorrowful all the time of thine absence.'

'Thou shalt see them at home,' quoth Sancho, 'and therefore rest satisfied for this time; for and it please God that we travel once again to seek adventures, thou shalt see me shortly after an earl or governor of an island, and that not of every ordinary one neither, but of one of the best in the world.'

'I pray God, husband, it may be so,' replied she, 'for we have very great need of it. But what means that island ? for I understand not the word.'

"Honey is not made for the ass's mouth,' quoth Sancho; 'wife, thou shalt know it in good time, yea and shalt wonder to hear the title of ladyship given thee by all thy vassals.'

'What is that thou speakest, Sancho, of lordships, islands, and vassals?' answered Joan Panza (for so she was called, although her husband and she were not kinsfolk, but by reason that in the Mancha the wives are usually called after their husband's surname).

"Do not busy thyself, Joan,' quoth Sancho, 'to know these things on such a sudden; let it suffice that I tell thee the truth, and therewithal sew up thy mouth. I will only say thus much unto thee, as it were by the way, that there is nothing in the world so pleasant as for an honest man to be the squire of a knight-errant that seeks adventures. It is very true that the greatest number of adventures found out succeeded not to a man's satisfaction so much as he would desire; for of a hundred that are encountered, the ninety-and-nine are wont to be cross and untoward ones. I know it by experience, for I have come away myself out of some of them well canvassed, and out of others well beaten. But yes, for all that, it is a fine thing to expect events, traverse groves, search woods, tread on rocks, visit castles, and lodge in inns at a man's pleasure, without paying the devil a cross.'