Monday 13 June 2011

Don Quixote - Broken Hearts and Broken Minds

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.


David Ziggy Greene said...

Looking gooood.

Mark Kardwell said...

See, this is why I know this beloved book is in good hands. This adaptation is obviously a bit more thoughtful than yer average MANGA SHAKESPEARE or whatnot.

Brave stuff, Rob. Really looking forward to the work.

David Baillie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Baillie said...

Sorry to hear your bad news - I hope things improve for you soon.

The book looks great - so many people can't wait to get their hands on it.

Sarah McIntyre said...

The book's going to be amazing. Huge sympathy, dude. x

Unknown said...

I look forward to reading this Rob.

Johnny Fighters said...

I can't wait to read this. Rob, you don't know me from Adam, but I hope you're OK

Lisa said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your separation, it's so so hard. I also can't wait to read your rendition of Don Quixote.
Something that I've read recently (and all but memorized verbatim), maybe it will also bring you some peace of mind, from the chapter on heartbreak in Being Wrong by Karyn Schultz
"So we should be able to be wrong from time to time, and be at peace with other people's occasional wrongness, and still love and be loved. That's so basic as to be banal, and yet it runs counter to our prevailing model of romantic love. There is no room for divergence, disagreement, or error in the starry-eyed, soul-mate version of love articulated by Aristophanes et al. To accommodate those eventualities -- and we had better accommodate them, since we can be damn sure they are coming -- we need a more capacious model of love. In this model, love is not predicated on sharing each others world as we might share a soul. It is predicated, instead, on sharing it as we might share a story.

Sending you platonic love from the internet ether x lisa

joscha said...

First part of your post was sad, I hope things will look up for you soon. But the comic looks amazing, it looks like something really special.

One minor detail, though: shouldn't it be "the act of making adVances to Camilla"? It says "adances" now.

Rob Davis said...

Thank you, lovely people.

Feel like I ought to say that life's ok right now, kids are fine and as Vonnegut says 'so it goes...'

Joscha, hopefully the proof reader spotted that, but I'll mention it to the editor to be on the safe side. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Rob, I'm very sorry to hear that you've separated and moved out, but glad that the kids are okay. Hopefully you and Sarah are, too.

Don Quixote looks ruddy marvellous. Cannot wait to get my hands on a copy - loving Amazon's pre-ordering function right now :)

Martin Simpson said...

I'm a huge fan of the book and I have a feeling I'm going to love this adaption of yours. Can't wait to get hold of it!

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