I referred to the Alexander McCall-Smith Von Igelfeld Trilogy described as a farcical germanic Frasier / Clousseau mix. Well its true, but it was thought prvoking in a philosophical kind of way – the farce allows a surreal world to supplant the supposedly real, but who knows which is which kind of thing. Truth stranger than fiction.
Like Don Quixote, which I’ve just started reading, there is an element of the writer writ, the reader read. The Von Igelfeld character is a writer whose only repute is through his written work, that no-one has read. I notice McCall-Smith’s third work is “The Sunday Philosophy Club”.
Very impressed with the Carlos Fuentes introduction to “The Modern Library CLassics” edition of Tobias Smollett’s translation of Cervantes, as well as Smollett’s own description of the life of Cervantes. Fuentes quotes Bachelard “But when science, ethics, politics and philosophy disciver their own limitations, they appeal to literature to go beyond their insufficiencies. Yet they only discover with literature itself, the permanent divorce between words and things.” Summarising Erasmus, who was a major influence on Cervantes, through his tutor Juan Lopez de Hoyos, Fuentes says “The Erasmian folly, set at the crossroads of two cultures [faith and reason], relativises the absolutes of both: this is a madness critically set in the very heart of faith, but also at the very heart of reason. The Madness of Erasmus is a questioning of man by man himself, reason by reason itself, and no longer by god, sin or the devil. Thus revitaised, man is no longer subjugated to fate or faith; but neither is he the absolute master of reason.”
Nothing new under the sun, again. Why are we still stuck in this dualist battle 400 years later ?
I also love all the “first modern novel” allusions, and the cross links to Shakespear’s Hamlet, Lear and Macbeth. I had no idea. I think I’m going to learn something in the next 1100 pages of close-spaced tiny print !.
[Oh yeah, and Reading blew it, losing at home to Wolves after leading – Oh well, all down to hoping for results on the final day of the season next Sunday.]