Saturday , December 16 2017

Why don’t we care for ‘Don Quixote’?

Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli Former Minister of Oil
Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli Former Minister of Oil

MR Bandar Al-Harbi wrote an article in the Nov 3 issue of Al-Hayat newspaper. The article comprises classic literary work of noted writer Abdulrahman Badawi. In fact, the masterpieces pertaining to his literary work are just four — the Iliad of Homer, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Goethe’s Faust and Don Quixote by Cervantes.

The 400th anniversary of the publication of the literary masterpieces which the Spanish Cervantes wrote in two parts between 1605 and 1615 falls this year. He chronicled such wonderful masterpieces in the first modern novel in the world. This novel which was a source of inspiration for Velobatir, was critiqued by Freud. It fascinated Mark Twain, Kafka, Picasso, Borges and Orson Welles.

This novel had a deep influence on culture, arts and letters around the world. But, its influence unfortunately was less on the Arab culture according to the thesis written by Dr Muhsin Al-Ramli under the title: The Imprint of Islamic Culture in Don Quixote.

Al-Ramli attributed that impact to the delay of translating such wonderful works or because the character of the ingenious gentleman ‘a wise mad person’ did not surprise the Arab mentality unlike the West because the Arab heritage is full of such characters who are called ‘wise mad people’ such as Asha’b and Bahloul.

He mentioned the imprints of the Arab and Islamic culture are plenty in the novel in which 35 characters have Islamic cultural background, over 20 proverbs and popular words of wisdom in addition to over 220 words which are rooted to Arabic.

Add to this the historical, religious and literary imprints related to the Arab chivalry, morality and characteristics more than the Western chivalry since he — Don Quixote — defended the poor, the orphans, the widows and the low-class people; whereas the Western chivalry defended kings, noblemen and the rich who have power.

We, who read the novel about Don Quixote when we were young and senile, feel sorry that the education experts in our country did not bring this novel to our attention which is full of luminous humanitarian points.

In future we may guide a young man to the right path by helping the weak and needy even in humorous ways. However, it is enough for us to focus on the quote of the novelist according to our tradition — the Arab, Islamic and humanitarian tradition — since the incident in the novel happened in Spain — the country which was ruled by us and from where we were kicked out because we failed to protect it like men.

Moreover, we cried like women when it was taken away from us. Andalus is the homeland of Don Quixote and our lost paradise.

By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli

Former Minister of Oil

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