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Don Quixote: Book 2: 11/22/08
The second book of Don Quixote de la Mancha begins during Don Quixote's joust picking up where the last book ended. As there is a ten year gap between when books one and two were written, there is a noticeable shift in narrative style.
Cervantes tries to explain away the time between the books using a method Elizabeth Peters uses for her Amelia Peabody series. He says that he had exhausted the original papers and had been searching, waiting and praying for further scholarly papers from the life and times of Sr. Quxada. At long last, a local street urchin who knew his love of old papers sold him a bundle written in Arabic. After having gotten them translated by a reliable source, he found to his heart's delight the missing details of Sr. Quixada's adventures as Don Quixote.
There is something oddly reassuring to know that this cliched technique of creating a bogus pedigree for fictional characters goes all the way back to at least 1615. For all I know, it goes back further. It wouldn't surprise in the least if the truth behind the explanation was along the lines of "and then I got tired of my fans pestering me for the next installment".
Book Two is actually shorter than Book One by about twenty pages but it is part of a much longer sequel. As far as I know, all the remaining books were written and published in the same year, 1615. After this comes a longer Book Three and the remainder of the novel in Book Four (Parts One and Two).
Book Two centers around a group of goat herds and the death of a local hero of a broken heart. His death and funeral should serve as a warning to Don Quixote. Chrysostom was a book lover and intellect as Sr. Quixada once was before he lost his mind to his books and set out on a Renaissance style cosplay. Just as Chrysostom's death can be attributed to his unwanted advances on the local shepherdess beauty, Marcela, so might Dulcinea some day be Don Quixote's downfall.
Don Quixote being the epitome of optimistic doesn't take the warning to heart. Instead he mistakenly proclaims Marcela's right to freedom, thus "saving" a damsel who neither wants nor needs saving.
Next Saturday I'm taking a break from writing about Don Quixote. I will be down in South Pasadena for the Thanksgiving holiday and I don't want to drag my book along. It's old and a little fragile. I will discuss Book Three on December 6th.