Thursday 23 September 2010

Graphic Novel Within A Novel.

I set myself 144 comic pages in which to fit the 500 text pages of Don Quixote part one. I had a few tricks in mind to compress certain elements, and of course the dialogue would have to be reduced otherwise every speech bubble in a conversation between Quixote and Sancho would fill a page. Even with all the sleight of hand, pictures speaking for words and shortened dialogue I still need to cut something. What to cut?

Within those 500 pages of part one there is a short novel (40 pages) called The Novel of the Curious Impertinent* which most adapters see as prime candidate for the chop. Many argue it has no place in the Don Quixote in the first place. It's the story of a man who wants to put his wife's fidelity on trial and in doing so creates the very thing he fears.

Well, I'm keeping it. It's key to my reading of the book. What we see in the Novel of the Curious Impertinent is a scientific search for truth in love, but it's like a quantum experiment where the viewer affects the results. This is in perfect contrast to Don Quixote, who sees what he wants to see. Including the Novel of the Curious Impertinent sets Don Quixote the character into sharp relief, helps bring him to life. And it's part of the alchemy of the book watching the fiction come to life.

So what does get the chop? Well, there's a lot of hullabaloo at the inn towards the end of the book that puts a great strain on many modern readers' credulity. I'm paring it down right now. Hopefully I can lose a couple of events that have no bearing on what comes before or after. I can already feel the Cervantine Scholars lighting their torches and marching on Blandford Forum.

Oh, yeah, the picture above - that's an attempt at designing a cover for Volume One. Emma and I decided to go for something else which you'll see in good time. This cover is illustrative of the book as a whole in a quite literal way - it shows the two friends jabbering happily away to one another in a featureless landscape. The new cover will be a tad more dynamic. And it will feature sheep! What more do you want?

*The novel also has been translated as "The Man Too Curious For His Own Good" and other variations.


Mark Clapham said...

Are you using a different style for the novel-within-a-novel?

Rob Davis said...

The short answer is yes. Each of the stories recounted before the Novel of the Curious will appear rather like a Sunday Funny Paper 'The Goat herder's Tale', 'Cardenio's Tale' etc (perhaps two colour), a self contained strip, then when we get to the Novel of the Curious we enter a kind of mini comic with its own style. I've slightly shifted the point when Sancho interrupts so that he quite literally 'bursts' the illusion.

Mark Clapham said...

That sounds excellent. Looking forward to it.

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