IBNA- Noted Iranian scholar and poet Kewmars Monshizadeh suggests reading ‘Don Quixote’ and presenting it as a gift in Norouz, as he believes it’s superior to the works Shakespeare.
In an interview with IBNA, poet and satirist Kewmars Monshizadeh said that ‘Don Quixote’ by Miguel de Cervantes is the greatest wisdom of the world that we think might is madness. This book is so great that Leo Tolstoy said: “After the invention of writing, no book has ever been written like ‘Don Quixote’.”
He said if we set a balance with the works of William Shakespeare in one pan and ‘Don Quixote’ in the other, ‘Don Quixote’ proves to be heavier. All Shakespeare works, except for a couple, take place in palaces and have nothing to do with ordinary people, but ‘Don Quixote’ is so humane that is beyond literature and is so literary which transcends humanity. This book is considered the source of many literary articles.
The poet continued: “We know Emile Zola as the founder of Naturalism in literature, but Cervantes showed what Naturalism is two centuries before him by contrasting two men against each other; the ‘Don Quixote’, a very passionate, lean and choleric person and Sancho Panza his servant who is a pudgy, phlegmatic man. Naturalism tends to human temperament and not the natural.
The poet of ‘More Red than White’ so continued: “Life is portrayed throughout this book. Vladimir Nabokov, creator of ‘Lolita’ once said at Harvard University that no creator has a right to hurt and oppress his creation as much as Cervantes did in Don Quixote. He was expelled from Harvard University due to this remark.”
Monshizadeh continued that Don Quixote, in fact, sees things as he thinks, and as the situation gets worse, he enjoys it more. He believes Gods are putting him to test, but his servant says: “The truth is not seen, and that means the truth should not be seen.” This is dangerous because in philosophy this is the beginning of human errors. We have a phrase in Arabic too which means lack of something is not a reason for its absence.
The author of ‘Faced with the Whip’ added that ‘Don Quixote’ is a comic book combined with tragedy, and as Lord Byron said, who can say if it’s a comedy or tragedy. It’s tragic because we laugh at human miseries, and as he gets more miserable we laugh at him more, which is inhumane. Perhaps that’s why this book is the book of books based on which several operas and films have been made.
The poet of the series ‘Red Clock at 25 o’clock’ said that once in Paris he was talking with a movie actress who asked if he knew ‘Orson Welles’. He said yes, he is the author of ‘Citizen Kane’. Then the actress said that you don’t know him well. He’s a great filmmaker since he started filming the ‘Don Quixote’ but didn’t dare to go on.
Monshizadeh said that none of the films that were based on ‘Don Quixote’ succeeded as the book itself is a success. It’s written beautifully and although lacks a good translation which doesn’t correspond to its Spanish version, but I if Cervantes himself was alive he’d suggest it to be translated by Mohammad Ghazi. Ghazi’s literature in translating this book is very sad, poetic and archaic.
Referring to the beginning of this novel, Monshizadeh continued: “In that land that I will not name, a knight lived whose part of life was undermined by a pigeon chick.” This meant that Don Quixote sold his belongings to spend on the pigeon for food and lived on like that and got weaker and more lunatic. There is a transformation in this book and that is his servant, the pudgy man, who gets attracted to Don Quixote. When at the end of the book Don Quixote says: “Know and understand that what I said were lies and deceit.” His servant replied; “No, My Lord. Everything you said was true. What you didn’t say was wrong.”
The tragic part of the book is Don Quixote’s death. The reason why I compared Shakespeare with Cervantes was because they were contemporaries. Don Quixote is the wisdom of the universe and his madness is the reason why the world is such a strange place, the poet continued.
Monshizadeh is known as the Math Poet because of his use of numbers and mathematical signs, chemistry and physics in poetry. His books include the poetry collection ‘More Red than White’, and the satire ‘Faced with the Whip’. He’s also the composer of poems with a distinct style known as “Color Poetry”.