Critics have long held that, even if Cervantes was at least somewhat aware that his work would be successful, this was only because he knew it was funny, and hoped that, in reading it, as he famously wrote in his first preface to Don Quixote, "the melancholy would be moved to laughter, and the merry made merrier still."
William Egginton's blog
My last post, aligning Don Quixote with Descartes and the birth of modern philosophy, elicited some terrific responses, for which I am very grateful. One response, though, claimed that I had to misinterpret both Cervantes and Descartes in order to make my point, and that this proved I was under the sway of postmodernism, much like the Comp Lit department at Stanford, where I received my PhD.
Popularly known as the father of modern philosophy, René Descartes won that title ostensibly by rejecting traditional modes of intellectual inquiry largely associated with commentary on prior texts, and replacing them with the first attempt at a kind of radical phenomenology.
In early 1614 a royal censor named Márquez Torres was reading the manuscript of the second part of Don Quixote, to be released the following year, when he got into a conversation with some visiting dignitaries in the company of the French ambassador.
Over the past few years I have used this space mainly as a sounding board for ideas and arguments that I worked into my book In Defense of Religious Moderation. Looking back over those posts I can see the progression of the project, even down to the change of title, and relive some of the debates that informed it and criticisms that enriched it.
In a recent NPR piece TV critic Eric Deggans cites shows like "Hell on Wheels," Sons of Anarchy," "Dexter," and "Breaking Bad" as evidence of a proliferations of television programs featuring "characters the audience likes and wants to see succeed, even though they act an awful lot like villains.
In a radio interview with Dan Rodricks last week, I used the term "character fundamentalism" to indicate a kind of thinking that, while not explicitly religious, was nevertheless fundamentalist and iniquitous to a functioning democracy.
I just posted an excerpt from chapter three of In Defense of Religious Moderation on the blog Religion in American History (http://usreligion.blogspot.com/). As the editor, Paul Harvey, notes, the "post is particularly timely here after the events in Norway and yesterday's commemoration of 9/11, both of which suggest that the ancient ideal of moderation still has an awful lot going for it."
In Defense of Religious Moderation is due out this week, but a foretaste of the critical reaction is already starting to seep in.
The book I've been blogging occasionally about for the last year or more is now coming out in June. I've just written this op-ed piece to accompany its release: