El Señor y lo demás, son cuentos (Narrativa) (Spanish Edition)

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El señor y lo demás, son cuentos

But above all he admired Reinaldos of Montalban, especially when he saw him sallying forth from his castle and robbing everyone he met, and when beyond the seas he stole that image of Mahomet which, as his history says, was entirely of gold. To have a bout of kicking at that traitor of a Ganelon he would have given his housekeeper, and his niece into the bargain. In short, his wits being quite gone, he hit upon the strangest notion that ever madman in this world hit upon, and that was that he fancied it was right and requisite, as well for the support of his own honour as for the service of his country, that he should make a knight-errant of himself, roaming the world over in full armour and on horseback in quest of adventures, and putting in practice himself all that he had read of as being the usual practices of knights-errant; righting every kind of wrong, and exposing himself to peril and danger from which, in the issue, he was to reap eternal renown and fame.

Already the poor man saw himself crowned by the might of his arm Emperor of Trebizond at least; and so, led away by the intense enjoyment he found in these pleasant fancies, he set himself forthwith to put his scheme into execution. The first thing he did was to clean up some armour that had belonged to his great-grandfather, and had been for ages lying forgotten in a corner eaten with rust and covered with mildew.

He scoured and polished it as best he could, but he perceived one great defect in it, that it had no closed helmet, nothing but a simple morion. This deficiency, however, his ingenuity supplied, for he contrived a kind of half-helmet of pasteboard which, fitted on to the morion, looked like a whole one. It is true that, in order to see if it was strong and fit to stand a cut, he drew his sword and gave it a couple of slashes, the first of which undid in an instant what had taken him a week to do.

The ease with which he had knocked it to pieces disconcerted him somewhat, and to guard against that danger he set to work again, fixing bars of iron on the inside until he was satisfied with its strength; and then, not caring to try any more experiments with it, he passed it and adopted it as a helmet of the most perfect construction. He next proceeded to inspect his hack, which, with more quartos than a real and more blemishes than the steed of Gonela, that "tantum pellis et ossa fuit," surpassed in his eyes the Bucephalus of Alexander or the Babieca of the Cid.

Four days were spent in thinking what name to give him, because as he said to himself it was not right that a horse belonging to a knight so famous, and one with such merits of his own, should be without some distinctive name, and he strove to adapt it so as to indicate what he had been before belonging to a knight-errant, and what he then was; for it was only reasonable that, his master taking a new character, he should take a new name, and that it should be a distinguished and full-sounding one, befitting the new order and calling he was about to follow.

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  7. And so, after having composed, struck out, rejected, added to, unmade, and remade a multitude of names out of his memory and fancy, he decided upon calling him Rocinante, a name, to his thinking, lofty, sonorous, and significant of his condition as a hack before he became what he now was, the first and foremost of all the hacks in the world. Having got a name for his horse so much to his taste, he was anxious to get one for himself, and he was eight days more pondering over this point, till at last he made up his mind to call himself "Don Quixote," whence, as has been already said, the authors of this veracious history have inferred that his name must have been beyond a doubt Quixada, and not Quesada as others would have it.

    The sympathetic figures of the cow Cordera and the dog Quin, who possess varying degrees of intelligence but are strongly identified as peace- able rural animals, are loyal and trusting of their human masters even as they face death. The violence of her death contrasts her peaceful, rural life among humans, and it is precisely her work ethic, loyalty to the family and unquestioning trust that lead to her slaughter. Whereas the children value Cordera for her loyalty — as they might a dog — this quality is of no economic use to the family.

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    The narrative ends as Rosa, laying her head on the vibrating telegraph wire, understands the connection between this symbol of technology and the actual consequences of the indus- trial age. Quin is a uniquely rational dog, conscious of his inability to assimilate completely into either the canine or human worlds, which will effectively lead to his social isolation and demise. His desire for a master who will understand his unique countenance drives Quin to leave the military barracks, where he has become something of a mascot for a group of soldiers, and become the pet of a meek, young pacifist with whom the dog personally identifies.

    This sexual drive prompts him to desert his home for a night, and, by the next morning, his master has replaced him with another, more ferocious, dog. Quin is shocked that the gentle young man has, in essence, selected aggression as a more valuable canine commodity than intelligence. His efforts fall on deaf canine ears, instead debunking his hypothesis by educating a fly.

    The fly is the stereotypical lost intellectual, so immersed in abstract knowledge that he cannot function in the insect world: Following the precepts of Natural Selection to the extreme conclusion of an over-educated fly leads to an organism with traits that are entirely useless in nature and, moreover, prevent the propagation of the species.

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    On his deathbed, Socrates tells his disciple: The animals, narrator and reader are all lead through a series of events that underline the evolutionary miracle resulting in animals with human emotional and rational capabilities, yet these unique ani- mals are all then killed by, or as a direct result of the actions of, their human masters. The characteristics that doom these four animals — their rational intelligence, love, skepticism and peaceful existence — are perceived as weak in a society calculated to a theoretical extreme: From this reading, these stories strive for an ironic representation of the unintended consequences of Natural Selection and the gaps in logic of Social Darwinism that spell the demise of four innocent animals caught up in the intellectual trend of evolutionary thought en vogue during the late nine- teenth century.