Wheels, Windmills, and Webs
Don Quixote’s Library and the History of Reading
- Time: 7:00 AM
- Date: Sep 8, 2005 to Dec 1, 2005
- Place: L. Tom Perry Special Collections, 1130 HBLL
About the Event
Two-thousand and five is the 400th anniversary of the publication of the first part of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. The adventure of Don Quixote is not simply the tale of an old man losing his mind and pursuing a life of knighthood. The tale of Don Quixote starts with the literature he made available to himself and his obsession with reading. Don Quixote eventually reads himself to insanity, being unable to distinguish the difference between reality and fantasy. His inability to differentiate the truth from the false eventually leads to his tragic downfall and the degradation of his mind.
Quixote’s servants see how the literature he reads is slowly poisoning the old mans mind. They eventually pick through his novels and burn those they find least valuable. Though this occurs in reality, is it not an allegory of what we do every day in modern times? Every individual picks and chooses the literature or entertainment they want to associate themselves with. We use our own censoring abilities to refrain from certain things, while devouring others.
This exhibit focuses on Don Quixote’s “reading wheel”, a specific reading practice that involves comparing and contrasting information to gain knowledge. However, with this research can come confusion and eventually contradict what the purpose was in the first place. This “reading wheel” may seem trivial, but it is very much a part of our every day lives. Internet surfing, comparative literature, and multiple overlapping discussions all are part of this “reading wheel” that is discussed in this story and eventually is the cause of Don Quixote’s insanity.