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Miguel de Cervantes’ Lessons in Life and Love Applied to the Modern World

In Don Quixote’s Impossible Dream

Though previously acknowledged herein, I cannot overstate my gratitude to the supplier of the thematic framework through which I could beget my own dear iteration of humanity’s common experiences.  I quote Cervantes often, indeed, for it was apropos; he is credited with writing, among other works, the first modern novel and we know it, The Ingenious Nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, and it is arguably the best novel ever written, a play within a play. For that and more, I envy him a due homage and respectfully respond in the manner of a quest within a quest. In so much as I recognize his alter-ego in Don Quixote, as a then modern-day Francis of Assisi; who too, could reason through the zeitgeist hypocrisy of his age, in the manner of a Christ figure.

The indomitable Cervantes was a Spanish nobleman of secondary royalty, a valiant soldier, and a grievously wounded war veteran cum enslaved emissary, following his capture by Algerian corsairs. His culmination of experiences led to a prolific though commercially unsuccessful career as a playwright, novelist and poet that consequenced his excommunication by the Spanish Inquisition, adding drear to his woefulness. These testaments of his reversals taught him, in part, to portray the human spirit in the mode of his aforementioned picaresque novel; predicated on his imaginations, brought to life in the character Don Quixote that called into question the normative incongruities that belied the ethos of the “Spanish Inquisition”, on both aesthetic and intellectual terms. Cervantes subjects Don Quixote to [mis]adventures thick with ordeals couched in anguish and torment that worked as a proxy to describe Cervantes’ sufferings; the strain of which I am too familiar with, having my own storied “adventures”. However, like Cervantes and Quixote I resurrected from the ashes of burning oppression and despair, in the manner of the proverbial Phoenix, imbued with a profound source of inspiration from which to write about my own self-metamorphosis. Needless to say, I am deeply empathetic to Cervantes’ altogether personal transformation; caused, perforce, by an inconsolable level of ruinous dehumanization and abyssal despair by virtue of a malicious campaign; waged by those who wielded, indiscriminately, their unchecked authority. Don Quixote’s voice resounds through the ages speaking the “truth” for anyone and everyone who has ever suffered political, social, religious, or any other form of persecution or suppressive adversity.  This truth of Cervantes metamorphosis, per se, is what spoke to me in terms deeply personal and served as the underlying thematic cadence that marched me through hell’s gates and back.  Cervantes’s greatest work has helped to lift his nation, his religion, and for that matter all nations and religions, and quite possibly the collective consciousness of the world, by teaching us to reach for the “stars”; and that questing, above all, matters most—and no less for the most famous quixotic knight errant—Don Quixote.

I would be remiss to a fault not to acknowledge translators of that opus, including Charles Jervas, Tobias Smollett, Samuel Putnam, J. M. Cohen, Walter Starkie, Burton Raffel, John D. Rutherford, and most recently Edith Grossman. Each in turn honored the work with their respective translations to English, a supreme tribute in and of itself to the original.  Many have contributed by adapting the story for the stage and later the silver screen, and so I owe thanks to the talents of Dale Wasserman for his book, Joe Darion for his lyrics, and Mitch Leigh for his music for the award-winning musical and film productions of Man of La Mancha. The show in its various guises has thrilled audiences around the world with a host of memorable performances given by an iconic cast of performers.  With respect to languages, I have chosen English, my native tongue, though Cervantes’s story was written in Spanish; and no other language other than Spanish can capture the sublime preciseness of the subtle nuances spread throughout his masterwork. Many of the words and phrases used throughout my work come from other languages (primarily Latin, French, Greek, Italian and German) that have gradually become accepted into the English language over time; and out of respect, I have left the Spanish language, by and large, reserved to Cervantes. However, I do note in my annotations and glossary section, in many cases, the origin language of those once foreign words that I have taken the liberty to use, as it took a world of languages for me to properly address the genius of Cervantes’s singular work.

In fine, this opus stands as a candid testimony of my especial gratitude for which I recognize upon my parents, while also demonstrating to my children a bevy of adoptable precepts, well-trodden, for a happy life; and, perchance to unite my family and friends, both in practice and spirit, by the notion that we can never overdignify an unqualified charitable respect for one another. Now to the purpose of this metaphrastic interpretation enciphered in an excursive tribute, which is tethered gravitationally to its primary antecedent, like to a celestial system, orbiting about a common center; my life’s denouement, which expresses the inexpressible love embedded in my soul for the one I love. In full-view of that love I have faithfully set down in uncut words this valentine dedicated to my indescribable Dulcinea, for whom I take a privileged care to describe—that the entire world shall know her now and forever. My Dulcinea has provided me with nothing less than the truest and deepest inspiration for the idiosyncratic impartment of my soul, duly delivered in this love-poem. Had it not been for her, I would, undoubtedly still be tilting at windmills.

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