Finished. Volume One of Don Quixote is in the bag. I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but it's taken me this long to get over the loss and the separation and move on. Hmmm... I'll start again... That was a piss poor attempt at making an oblique reference to the fact I marked the end of Quixote by separating from my wife and moving out of my home with her and the kids. Quixote wasn't in any way responsible for what happened, but I found much in the book that echoed my state of mind and my situation.
If you're not familiar with the original book you may be surprised to learn that it contains eternal truths about love and loss as well as madness, delusion and goats. But love is to some extent the ultimate madness and delusion, it's the quixotism we all indulge in (not sure where the goats fits in, but each to their own, eh). Maybe the best way to appreciate the idealist, the impulsive, the rash romantic that is Don Quixote is to think of madness as love, then his crazy exploits don't seem any more ridiculous than our own. (Hmmm... how long can I stretch this analogy...?)
I'll switch from discussing it in general terms and instead use some synchronistic examples from recent weeks.
The day of the Royal Wedding was a particular low in my life, the point in this particular marital breakdown where events spiraled out of control into the kind of nightmare-scape that I'd always dreaded. On that day I did this panel:
For Don Quixote love is as unrequited and sweet as a teenage crush.
Everything he does is for the Lady Dulcinea del Toboso, a figment of his imagination, a deep, lasting love he has projected onto a peasant girl in the village.
Nothing like a teenage crush to make you act like a fool, you might not have dressed in armour and fought windmills, sheep and cats to prove the validity of your own imagined love, but it will probably have found a way to make a fool of you I'm sure.
It's in the stories within stories from the people he meets on the road that we get a more realistic picture of how men and women inflict their madness upon each other in the name of love.
They're simple morality tales with a cruel twist and a wicked sense of humour.
Cervantes saves the best for last in Volume One - an entire novella within the novel. In my version this is crushed down to just four pages. 'The Novel of the Curious Impertinent' paints a painful and hilarious picture of what happens when monogamy and curiosity collide.
Now I'm not trying to belittle the complex states of insanity that afflict folk by comparing them to love anymore than I'm trying to turn anyone's idea of love sour; I'm interested in the mechanisms of fiction and how close those mechanisms echo sanity and love. I don't expect to understand these things, it's just handy to leave a few breadcrumbs on the path as you go in so you can find your way out again.