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Posts Tagged ‘Don Quixote’

In Search of Cervantes’s Casket

January 26, 2015 | by

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Juan de Jáuregui y Aguilar, Miguel de Cervantes, seventeenth century.

Archeologists in Spain have excavated a casket with Miguel de Cervantes’s initials on it, the Associated Press reported earlier today, which may mean that a long search for the author’s remains is finally over.

When Cervantes died, in 1616, he was buried in the Trinitarias convent in Madrid. This arrangement required a special dispensation: Years earlier, when Cervantes was a soldier, his ship had been captured by pirates, and he was held captive for five years. The Trinitarias’s religious order had helped arrange for his safe release, so he asked to be buried there. Read More »

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Endangered Opera

May 12, 2014 | by

The fight to save the San Diego Opera.
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Ferruccio Furlanetto in a publicity still from the San Diego Opera’s Don Quixote.

The half-ton red-velvet curtain fell for what may be the last time on a San Diego Opera performance in mid-April, to a sold-out matinée of Don Quixote. Before the show, patrons drank wine outside, talking about the sad turn of events and snapping photos to mark the occasion: funeral selfies, opera style. In the final minutes of the final performance, Ferruccio Furlanetto—as a lanky and, even by operatic standards, gorgeously expressive Don Quixote—collapsed on a cluster of boulders under a starlit sky, relinquishing his last breath, and with it, his perpetual quest for a better tomorrow.

In March, the Opera’s board of directors voted to fold the forty-nine-year-old company, citing financial problems. After the announcement, which surprised many, came a media storm with all the musical metaphors you could hope for. (Would the fat lady sing? Would there be a reprise?) There were social media campaigns and T-shirts; candlelight vigils; protesters, one in a death mask; a large, last-ditch donation, and a series of smaller contributions from first-time donors; and then there was a genius twist. Someone closely read the opera’s bylaws and discovered that everybody who donated at least $101 toward the current season was considered an association member with voting rights, which meant they could make decisions and recommendations. A second board vote postponed the closure to May 29 and bought some time for fundraising. For the past month and a half, problem solvers have been hunting for ways to keep the San Diego Opera running. Ditch the massive theater? Save the chorus? What is necessary, and what is sufficient, to create opera? Read More »

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Listening to Stonehenge, and Other News

March 11, 2014 | by

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Photo: The Stonehenge Stone Circle, via Flickr

 

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A Most Searching Examination

February 27, 2014 | by

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Image via Pop Chart Lab

Pop Chart Lab, whose laudable ambition is “to render all of human experience in chart form,” is offering a print consisting of twenty-nine first sentences from novels, including one of my favorites, from David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress: “In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street.” Of course, a print comprised of nothing but text would be not much of a print at all, so Pop Chart Lab has done us the favor of diagramming every sentence according to the Reed-Kellogg System, color coded and all. Plotting out the beginning of Don Quixote is, as you can see, complicated.

As a pedagogical device, sentence diagrams have fallen out of fashion; I never had to draw them (if that’s even the right verb) in school, nor was I made to study any grammar beyond the rudimentary parts of speech. This makes me feel like a fraud whenever I pretend to be a grammarian, as I often do. In fact, before today, I’d never heard of the Reed-Kellogg System; it sounds to me like a proprietary method for processing and packaging cornflakes.

Actually, it dates back to 1877, when it was invented by two men with great names, Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg. Though the Don Quixote sample is intimidating, diagramming sentences turns out to be fairly intuitive. (“And fun!” adds a sad, sorry voice in my head.) You begin with the base, a horizontal line; write the subject on the left and the predicate on the right, separated by a vertical bar. Then separate the verb and its object with another mark—if you have a direct object, use a vertical line, and if you have a predicate noun (had to look that up) or an adjective (that one I knew), use a backslash. Modifiers of the subject, predicate, or object “dangle below the base.” Read More »

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Man with Van of La Mancha, and Other News

September 30, 2013 | by

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  • In honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath, playwright Octavio Solis, writer Patricia Wakida, and filmmaker P. J. Palmer will retrace the Oklahoma-to-California journey of the Joad family. Along Route 66, they plan to collect oral histories, documenting the ten-day journey on social media.
  • Meanwhile, photographer Jacob Robinson takes to La Mancha (and Kickstarter) to “capture the spirit of Don Quixote” for the Visual Editions project.
  • Helen Fielding has killed off Mark Darcy, leaving Bridget Jones a widow; readers are in shock.
  • Garrison Keillor has penned his first book of poetry: O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic and Profound.
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    I Opened the Door

    November 16, 2012 | by

    At last I had begun writing my long-planned book about Captain Ahab’s doomed enterprise in Moby-Dick—about Robur’s doomed enterprise in Verne’s Maître du Monde—about the doomed enterprise of Doctor Hans Reinhardt from the 1979 science-fiction film The Black Hole.

    Eleven thousand words in, and may God grant that I learn it sooner next time or else not at all, I understood with blinding clarity that my book itself was another doomed enterprise.

    As Don Quixote said: y yo hasta agora no sé lo que conquisto a fuerza de mis trabajos—I do not even know what I am conquering.

    “Master of the world”! Robur-le-Conquérant!—what a delusion! what a farce! The quintessence of megalomania: Richard Wagner named his dog Robur.

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