Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Don Rides Forth

Because I'm too knackered after a horrible day at work, here's one I prepared earlier. It is grave robbing of the worst order. Both Cervantes and Dante may feel justifiably violated... This is the prospective prologue to the never-to-be-released sequel to Don Quixote. To establish some kind of context for the exhumation, here is an extract from the end of Cervantes' original:
For me alone Don Quixote was born and I for him. His was the power of action, mine of writing. Only we two are at one, despite that fictitious and Tordillescan scribe who has dared, and may dare again, to pen the deeds of my valorous knight with his coarse and ill-trimmed ostrich feather. This is no weight for his shoulders, no task for his frozen intellect; and should you chance to make his acquaintance, you may tell him to leave Don Quixote’s weary and mouldering bones to rest in the grave, nor seek, against all the canons of death, to carry him off to Old Castile, or to bring him out of the tomb, where he most certainly lies, stretched at full length and powerless to make a third journey, or to embark on any new expedition.
(Part II, Ch.LXXIV)

And here is my ostrich-feather effort, lying somewhere between reverent pastiche and macabre mockery...

Carry me not to Old Castile, sir, only permit me to lie in the place I have carved for myself, and earned, by the virtue of my many deeds. It is my opinion - and I flatter myself that I have a little learning - that I have been placed here for a purpose. In life, my function was to succour the needy and aid the distressed, and though I have been laid low by the hand of my creator, I trust in his wisdom, and I know that he places me here so that no unrighteous hand may disinter my weary bones.
For myself, I believe that my adventuring days are far from over. Eventually, as the attentive reader knows, I recanted and realised the folly of my life, and was mercifully allowed to end my days in sanity and wisdom and the company of friends. And although I count myself cured, I await with interest the exploits of this soul for whom mere life was studded with so many glorious adventures, like stars in a clear night sky.
As my reader will doubtless deduce, there have been certain difficulties in the transmission of this new history. The insight of the fine historian Cide Hamete Benengali, author of the original book of my adventures, is of course absent, for he hung up his quill shortly after he buried me with it, and has not yet come this way himself. However I have read his words and hope to imitate, in my own poor prose, his most exceptional and incisive style.
Likewise, my gallant squire Sancho Panza with whom, despite his frequent baseness and many embarrassing outbursts, I parted in the greatest friendship. He has been sorely missed throughout the trials into which I have lately ventured, though perhaps more for his humour than his bravery. Yet I believe that I have had such a fill of his speech and mannerisms and proverbs (may God help me!) that the reader will not miss my good companion too much. After all, one bad apple soon turns the others in the basket.

I. Of the many noteworthy adventures that befell the valorous Don Quixote de la Mancha as he journeyed through the plains of Purgatory to his allotted place in Paradise...

Such an exhumation will never be dignified. The Don rides forth, strapped to his trusty steed like the Cid, and just as incongruous.

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