Well, Sara and I finally got through it all! Ever since we've had this blog, we've had this book on the sidebar, that we've been reading it, and we really were reading it, bit by bit, the whole time. I read it all out loud to Sara. Now it's done, and quite a thought provoker. Here are some thoughts.
1. Relationship between fiction and reality.
The ingenious hidalgo's reading of chivalric romances gets him thinking that he himself is a great knight-errant, ordained by God to right wrongs for the glory of his (made-up) beloved Dulcinea el Toboso. He ends up getting Sancho beat up, he often makes things worse for people, and rarely is he of any use to anyone. But he certainly changes Sancho's life. What we read can have a dramatic affect on our own lives, and the lives of those close to us. Sancho deliberately introduces some fiction of his own, deceiving Quixote about Dulcinea, and later pays for that, too. 2 characters, especially, go about introducing lots of fiction into the story, deceiving and playing tricks on Sancho and Quixote both, all of which they take as reality and incorporate into the annals of their journey. Interestingly, halfway through writing and publishing the story, a counterfeit Quixote book comes out, and Cervantes incorporates THAT work of fiction and deception into the rest of the real book! He mocks its author mercilessly. Anyway, there are stories within stories within stories going on here, but it all comes together and makes sense in the end.
2. Loyalty of a friend.
Sancho sticks with him through it all, in spite of many vicious arguments between them, and several threats to leave. This results in Sancho taking on some of Quixote's delusional characteristics, and in Quixote occasionally seeing things through Sancho's more realistic eyes.
3. The nature of wisdom.
Sancho usually comes off as the wise one, even though he is playing the role of fool/sidekick/jester/comic relief. His simple language, contrasted with Quixote's flowing, elegant, but irrelevant and out of touch, rhetoric usually describes reality better than Quixote does. Sancho even becomes a truly wise governor of a fictional island.
Lots of great themes. Noticed a ton of Monty Python-esque scenes. Obvious lifting going on, on the part of Monty Python. That's all the time I've got for now. Definitely a classic to be read many times for further understanding...