There is so much to say about not only Part 2 but also about the entire story of Don Quixote, that I'll never fit it into one blog post. I'll try to limit this one to my thoughts on Part 2--the way Cervantes tried to limit himself from digressing into entire other novels after the first book--and instead include other thoughts in later posts.
The short version is: Part 2 is a significantly better read than Part 1, but you really have to read Part 1 to understand Part 2.
Part 2 starts with all those formalities that Part 1 lacked. The dedications in particular. And here Cervantes introduces us to an incident that evolves into a bit of an obsession throughout the work. After Part 1 became a success, someone else wrote a sequel without Cervantes's permission. He deemed it quite inferior, obviously, both in writing style and character development. The irony, of course, is that we're still reading Cervantes's Don Quixote 400 years later, and we would never even remember this counterfeit if he didn't harp on it so much.
In this world of Part 2, we encounter our Knight of the Rueful Countenance (later to be known as the Knight of the Lions) still in bed recovering from his second sally, just a month or so before. And somehow in this time, half of Europe has read the true history of Don Quixote (the one by Cide Hamete Benegeli, of course, the historian Cervantes claims to be translating through both parts) and is completely enamored with the protagonist and his squire. They discuss the short-comings of the book--specifically the crazy novel-within-a-novel part I complained about earlier and a plotting mistake--and it's funny to hear that the complaints of readers 400 years ago are so similar to today's.
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza decide to proceed on a third sally, and they sneak out of the house in order to do so. Since I promised to keep this brief, I won't recount their adventures here. The important difference between this and the first and second sallies is that they actually win sometimes. The reader cheers for them because not every adventure ends in a spectacular beating or a sheep slaughter. Not all (most) of their wins are objectively fair successes, but they think they're winning, and you can't help but want it for them. A lot of people play a lot of tricks on them throughout, but many of the tricks are harmless except that they increase the delusion of Don Quixote and Sancho.
We love them for their delusions. When Sancho occasionally contemplates walking away, the reader wishes him to stay. As mean as some of the tricks are, we are the trick-players. We want them to believe, maybe because we want to live in a world where their beliefs are relevant.
And that's the magic of Part 2. Despite all the cultural differences between early 17th century Spain and 21st century America, we can still relate to the emotions behind the characters and their stories. Maybe this is what earns Don Quixote the title of "the first modern novel," I'm not sure. But it feels modern.
Whew! I've spent more than a month, using whatever spare time I could manage, transferring my website from WordPress to Weebly. I'm happy to report that the bulk of it is now done! (I haven't quite caught up with the blog archive, but that's in progress.)
So what happened?
My previous website was hacked. To the point where my service provider had to shut it down temporarily. I'm not certain, but I think that the hackers were either using my (admittedly unimportant) site as training, or they were creating email addresses from my domain and spamming people. So, I took out the corrupted files and caused minor damage to my site. But, I was planning to redesign the site anyway, and even had a design in mind, so I thought about getting started on that. I then started to get dead-link notifications for URLs like jlsmither.com/[name of my WordPress theme]/fonts/easy-payday-loans-peoria-illinois. I stepped up my redesign efforts and started looking around for a WordPress theme that fit what I had in mind. But I didn't find it. And a friend recommended Weebly. And, to my surprise, that had exactly the look I was going for and is SO MUCH easier to use! The only downside was that I had to transfer all the site content manually.
But it's done(-ish)! I think you'll like the new layout, which is much more visual than the last one. There's probably still some typos and other stuff that I haven't caught yet, and don't hesitate to let me know when you find them! One part I didn't bring over was the calendar--it was a lot to maintain, and I don't think it was very well used. If that was an important part of this site that you think you'll miss, please let me know that too!
So enjoy the new site! And look forward to more blog posts, like the exciting conclusion to Don Quixote! (I am aware that I'm the only one interested in that. Sorry.)
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