Saturday, November 14, 2015

a tale in the telling

What,  if anything,  do Hamlet and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes have in common?  With an ordinary education,  one might hear back either nothing,  or perhaps the date will hang in memory.  is more sophisticated player might realize that Hamlet and Don Quixote were composed almost at the same time.  This in our age is nothing to think about,  because innumerable works were composed at the same time.  and with a quick perusal of the dreams of proto-novelists one might do no more than look at that,  and think nothing more of it.

But cast such a thought at a person who has a consistent compulsive disorder,  or who is playing such at the time,  and one will realize that there are similarities.  For example Rosencrantz and Guildenstern matchup fairly well with Rocinante -  that is Don Quixote's horse,  with Rocin  being a raggedy stallion beyond its prime  (their is an itching because the name for the stallion is also produced in French and  Italian as well) -  and with another character known as Gines de Pasamonte. Then  one realizes that Cide Hamete Benengeli  is in DQ -  as the narrator -  one gets the feeling that both sources were taking a cue from a third work.  This because  Hamlet's date  is between 1599 and 1602,  and  Don Q was composed in 1605 and 1615,  and published immediately afterwards in England. 

François de Belleforest was a  translator who contributed the just of the story of Hamlet,  but that was man years ago and would have to  have a more proximate spark to engage to of the finest writers.  it must be noted that Shakespeare was not Shakespeare at the time,  but one of many who could command attention.  The same was true of  Cervantes -  enough to get someone to copy and extend his text for a profit,  but there were many others who could do the same thing.  What is interesting is that survey of these was published in English like a shot,  where as a great deal was allowed to lie fallow for many years.  so,  clearly,  there was something about the tale which ate upon  an exposed nerve which many people jerked their hand and copied,  whether   prose or  poetry,  to write something about it which they knew -  rightly -  would fly off the shelves. 
But what? 

It  cannot be Orlando Furioso,  because that work is almost a century old,  though it has forms which render the date problematic because several hands were present.But a  translation in to English,  the first  one of its kind by John Harington, which stirs  interest in an individual possessed of obsessive compulsive disorder,  because smaller details then this are used to connect to works together.  but if there is such a connection,  and it is not hidden by the  legerdemain of  unreliable text -  one needs to have something more specific to get to of the most brilliant writers -  even if they were not the Shakespeare or the Cervantes -  to write about something with in a few years  of each other.  the Duke and Duchess of the second half of Don Quixote,  are the clue that each of the writers are using the same theme,  and in this case,  Shakespeare was probably the source for the second part of Don Quixote.

In on words,  people in older times would riff  off other popular writers,  much as Shostakovich and Bartok did in our own day.  of course now we have the Simpsons to do it in almost real time

Of course once this entry in two the narrative begins,  it runs away with itself,  and enters in to  the ethereal air,  for example You Bet Your Life and a Broadway musical on the two figures which are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead are dead.