“Parable of Cervantes and the Quixote”
Jorge Luis Borges
Translated by Andrew Hurley
Weary of his land of Spain, an old soldier of the king’s army sought solace in the vast
geographies of Ariosto, in that valley of the moon in which one finds the time that is squandered by dreams, and in the golden idol of Muhammad stolen by Montalbán.
In gentle self-mockery, this old soldier conceived a credulous man—his mind unsettled by the reading of all those wonders—who took it into his head to ride out in search of adventures and enchantments in prosaic places with names such as El Toboso and Montici.
Defeated by reality, by Spain, don Quixote died in 1614 in the town of his birth. He was survived only a short time by Miguel de Cervantes.
For both the dreamer and the dreamed, that entire adventure had been the clash of two worlds; the unreal world of romances and the common everyday world of the seventeenth century.
They never suspected that the years would at last smooth away the discord, never suspected that in the eyes of the future, La Mancha and Montici and the lean figure of the Knight of Mournful Countenance would be no less poetic than the adventures of Sindbad or the vast geographies of Ariosto.
For in the beginning of literature there is myth, as there is also in the end of it.