Friday, October 27, 2006

Request for an Adventure

Our friend Enbrethiliel asked for a reference about Cervantes and his very hobbit-like attitude to adventure... hee hee. I don't really recall posting on this, but it is good in itself, and somehow fits in well with Ria's "Chocolate Cake Farm" idea. So here it is:
The signs of the resurrection of Spain, of which I think there are many to be seen lately, have turned my thoughts to certain subtleties in the tradition of that land. They are things so subtle that they always appear to be simple. One of them is the tradition of chivalry and the double attitude towards it which we connect with the name of Don Quixote. There is no more fantastic paradox in all history than the life and work of Cervantes. He is generally recognised as having written a book to show that romantic adventures are all rubbish and do not really happen in this world. As a matter of fact, the one man in this world to whom romantic adventures were incessantly happening was the author of "Don Quixote." He covered himself with glory and lost his right hand at the most romantic battle in history - when the Crescent and the Cross met in the blue Mediterranean by the Isles of Greece, [the battle of Lepanto] trailing all their pageants of painted and gilded ships with emblazoned sails. He was just about to receive public recognition from the victor, Don John of Austria, when he was kidnapped by pirates. He organised a series of escapes, each like the ideal adventure of a schoolboy; he organised supplies and comforts for his fellow-prisoners with the laborious altruism of a saint. As men go, he was really a pretty perfect pattern of the knight of chivalry; eventually he escaped and returned home to write a book showing that chivalry was impossible. At least, that is what three rationalistic centuries have taken it as showing. But I think the time has come to dig a little deeper in that stratified irony, and show the other side of Cervantes and chivalry.
[GKC ILN Oct. 18, 1924 CW33:425]
To which I cannot help adding:
"We don't like adventures around here. Nasty impractical things. Make you late for dinner," said Bilbo Baggins to the wizard.
[JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit quoted loosely from memory.]
Which of course leads directly back to GKC, and this amazing cross-reference:
It is the humble man who does the big things. It is the humble man who does the bold things. [cf Lk 1:52] It is the humble man who has the sensational sights vouchsafed to him, and this for three obvious reasons: first, that he strains his eyes more than any other men to see them; second, that he is more overwhelmed and uplifted with them when they come; third, that he records them more exactly and sincerely and with less adulteration from his more commonplace and more conceited everyday self. Adventures are to those to whom they are most unexpected - that is, most romantic. Adventures are to the shy: in this sense adventures are to the unadventurous.
[GKC, Heretics CW1:74]
Wow, if I wasn't busy with work, I would be torn between wanting to bake a chocolate cake or write an adventure story! (Probably I'll have to settle for eating cake and reading GKC tonight.)


At 29 October, 2006 09:50, Blogger love2learnmom said...

I'll definitely have to read Chesterton on Cervantes one of these days. I wrote my senior thesis on Don Quixote because I didn't like the common interpretation of it. I've since wondered if my thesis was a little silly (I haven't pulled it out since I defended it), but now I'm thinking I might have come out on Chesterton's side on that point all those years ago. :)

At 29 October, 2006 16:36, Blogger Dr. Thursday said...

Chesterton on Cervantes - this sounds like an excellent topic for a talk for a future ChesterCon - unless you'd rather do it on "Love to Learn," hee hee.

At 30 October, 2006 04:13, Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


Thank you so much, Dr. Thursday! :D

It's much better than I remembered.


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