Tilting At Windmills

Sanity is a slippery slope at times. We all know this. We’ve all fought our share of four armed giants and lost. None of us as innocent as when we started out. Certainly, as supporters of the romance genre, whether as reader or writer, we’ve defended against countless giants in the form of cynics and naysayers. Some might say we are the Don Quixote of the literary world. The laughingstock. The discounted. The delusional.

Romantic ideals don’t put food on the table. No matter the ideal is food for the mind. Reality must be dealt with. But how we deal with it is up to us.

man of la manchaI saw Man of La Mancha at Globe Theatre last night. Can you tell? In case, like me, you’re unfamiliar, it’s a play within a play. Tax collector, writer, soldier, and unfortunate poet, Miguel de Cervantes, is tossed into prison and is waiting his hearing by the Spanish Inquisition. First, however, he must defend himself against his follow prisoners to save his most precious possession. His unfinished novel, Don Quixote. The trials and tribulations of a mad knight.

Don Quixote is a lot bonkers. He’s read too many books about chivalry and knights and romance. Poor sot. Determined to resurrect the notion of chivalry, he sets out on a journey.

I shall impersonate a man. His name is Alonso Quijana, a country squire no longer young. Being retired, he has much time for books. He studies them from morn till night and often through the night and morn again, and all he reads oppresses him; fills him with indignation at man’s murderous ways toward man. He ponders the problem of how to make better a world where evil brings profit and virtue none at all; where fraud and deceit are mingled with truth and sincerity. He broods and broods and broods and broods and finally his brains dry up. He lays down the melancholy burden of sanity and conceives the strangest project ever imagined…. to become a knight-errant, and sally forth into the world in search of adventures; to mount a crusade; to raise up the weak and those in need. No longer will he be plain Alonso Quijana, but a dauntless knight known as Don Quixote de La Mancha. – Miguel de Cervantes, Man of La Mancha

Yeah, there are days I’d like to lay down the melancholy burden of sanity too. Then again, I am a romance writer and reader. So…there you go. Fortunately, I haven’t read so many romance novels my brains have dried up. Or given me unrealistic expectations, a familiar taunt and most insulting insinuation by the way.

Here’s the thing. You know he’s nuts. But…you can’t help but root for him, even if there’s a little pity mixed in. He sees the world, not how it is, but how he wishes. In this age of text messages and the illusion of 750 Facebook friends, why not dip your toe into the pool of delusion. Not as a full time job, of course.

I come in a world of iron to make a world of gold.- Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha

I loved this play. It inspired me to think and wonder. I’m not quite sure I understood it all, but that only makes me want to see it performed again. Because, you see, I couldn’t help but relate to Don Quixote. And that’s the thing about this play. There’s a little Don Quixote in all of us. Reality can break a person. Therefore, we must bend it a little to suit ourselves.

Which loops me back to romance. Romantic fiction is necessary. Stories filled with sole purpose of traveling the winding, uphill road to a happily-ever-after are important.When reality presses in, pick up a romance novel. Immerse yourself in modern acts of chivalry. Spend some times with heroes or heroines who you know will fight to figure it out. Let them inspire you. Give you a few precious moments of peace. Of adventure. Turn the pages, dream the impossible dream. At least for awhile.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!  – Miguel de Cervantes, Man of La Mancha

If you get a chance to see Man of La Mancha I hope you take it. I hope it inspires you. I hope it brings out the Don Quixote in you, my fellow travelers.

 

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200 Years of Pride and Prejudice

pride and prejudic

 

“I must confess that I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.” Jane Austen

 

 

 

I can certainly relate to her to her feelings. Rejections of beloved characters suck. You can spin them anyway you please, but they’re still hard to swallow. Having said that I have a confession to make. I’ve never read Jane Austen. I’ve tried (not very hard) and given up (too lazy to continue). I’ve plans to change this lack. The long anticipated months of July and August will see me toting around a copy of Pride and Prejudice. After my adventures of reading Jane Eyre last summer I’m encourage to give another classic a go. And 2013 is the 200th anniversary of it’s publication.

200 hundred years of Lizzie Bennet.

“Only the deepest love will persuade me into matrimony, which is why I will end up an old maid.” Lizzie Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

200 hundred years of Mr. Darcy.

“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.” Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice

While I may not have read the book I’m familiar with the story having watched the 2005 movie version many times. You know, on those days when you need to experience some time travel to get you through the day. Usually shared with obscene amounts of chocolate and balanced by cups of hot tea. But last night I watched a live theater adaption by Christina Calvit and directed by Marti Maraden. Done in the round at the Globe Theatre here in Regina, it was an ambitious undertaking. Very few props, as is the tradition, the insightful costuming helped tell the story and give a sense of place and time in Regency England. It was a delightful mix of veteran actors and graduates of the most recent Globe Theatre Actor Conservatory program. An enchanting combination of experience and innocence.

After being mocked during a recent suppertime conversation about the man to woman ratio in films and tv, it was refreshing to sit and enjoy a story showcasing women with men playing generally supporting roles. Pick a drama, count the female roles versus male roles. Of my favorites, H5O – three males cops, one female. Sherlock – One female Sherlock in training, the rest males (unless they’re a victim). NCIS (either one) – three male agents, one female. Longmire – One sheriff, two male deputies, one female deputy. The Vampire Dairies – Elana caught between two brothers.

But I digress.

Her stories are love stories. And relevant today. We still struggle to understand each other. She gifted her characters with the courage to choose happiness. We still search for it. No matter your gender.

Have you read Pride and Prejudice? Seen the movie? The play? Care to give an opinion?

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