Bags of Bran

Time Well Wasted
May 1, 2014, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Bibliophilia, Biography

I recently read Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a long, sprawling work, but very compelling. It’s about a fellow from La Mancha whose steady intake of King Arthur-type literature has “dried up his wits,” so he decides to become a knight-errant. He interprets everything he sees in the world through the lens of his delusion, and the result is… I don’t know what the result is. But he dies at the end. It’s a big, thick book full of stories about humanity, but that’s about all I can say.

I found myself looking forward to getting some time alone to read a chapter or two, simply because I was interested in what would happen next. I can’t say that I identified with any of the characters, even if I admired them greatly, and even if I felt like I knew and loved them by the end of the book. Furthermore, I can’t pretend that I “get” the story either. It’s easy enough to understand what happened, but attaching a “why” to the “what” is not something I feel qualified to attempt. Then again, literary critics are all over the place on Don Quixote, so if I came away in awe, but speechless, I don’t feel so bad. The book is alternately hilarious, sobering, frustrating, liberating, mythical, insightful, serious, and light. But it was always compelling, especially whenever Sancho Panza began to speak.

I still don’t get it. I don’t know what grounds on which I’d recommend it to you, though I would, and heartily. It is not exactly a beautiful story about beautiful characters doing beautiful things. But neither is it tragic. It is enigmatic.

So what is the point of reading a big, time-consuming book that I can’t easily classify, analyze, and reduce to a sentence? To enlarge my imagination, that’s what! I grew up watching Sesame Street, The Dukes of Hazzard, and G.I. Joe cartoons. I come away from Don Quixote with a new appreciation for the complexity of the human condition, not to mention a couple of Sancho’s proverbial sayings, such as “by night, all cats are gray.” I suppose I could demand of my literature that it be easy to digest, but then what’s the point? If a book only tells me what I think already, do I need the book?

I found myself asking at various times while reading whether a steady diet of literature, like that ingested by Don Quixote, could really becloud the wits of an otherwise-sensible person to the extent that he’s essentially a square peg in a world of round holes. Then I thought about Crossway Books. Then I smiled quietly to myself and kept reading.


Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Celebrating Revivalism and Other Noxious Pieties


\"If I am immoderate, I am immoderate to God.\" - Bengel


Like sawdust, but edible.

Broad Meadow

I have spoken the truth coldly; who cares for the truth? To be useful, one must be charming, and my pen has lost that art.

Planting churches with the Baptist Confession in one hand and Tolkien in the other

Orchard Keeper

Plucking fruit from the grove of biblical and theological studies

Jubilate Deo

Music in the service of the church


Theology, apologetics, ramblings

Towards Conservative Christianity

Promoting true conservative Christianity


"Action often eliminates the need for reflection as well as the opportunity." - Antonia Fraser

%d bloggers like this: