Posts Tagged ‘Don Quixote’

Travels With Charley – In Search Of America  —   book review
Today’s review is for one of John Steinbeck’s later works, “Travels With Charley” (1962©).  The book is a “supposedly” non-fiction relating of a road trip Steinbeck made around the continental United States (about 10,000 miles).  Roughly, the trip is from his home in New York, up to Maine, across the northern states to Seattle, down through California, back east to New Orleans (via Texas), then up the Eastern seaboard back to his home.  Steinbeck says the trip is to allow him to get back in touch with the common American whom Steinbeck feels he based much of his writing on.  Having lost “touch” with his roots, Steinbeck seeks to rediscover America by seeing it again with his own eyes.  Steinbeck makes the trip in a truck with a custom built camper shell.  The truck is named “Rocinante” –  for the horse ridden by Don Quixote.
Although quite a number of books touch me (as a reader), there are relatively few which seem to strike an internal chord.  I am not a musician, so forgive me if I am misusing the term “chord”, but it is more than a single note.   It is a combination of notes which creates their own harmony.  This book is one of those few for me.  It is hard for me to adequately put into words the effect this book had except to say I consistently felt Steinbeck was writing it just to let me know I am not alone in how I feel about certain things.  From his description of his perpetual wanderlust, to his affection for his pet dog (Charley), to his observations about America – its history and its people – its cities and our civilization – I just felt a powerful bond of kinship with Steinbeck.
In the martial arts, it is frequently said that when the student is ready, the teacher will find him.  I think it ironic for me to “discover” this work as I turn sixty (“ish”) and that I feel its call to me to continue chasing my own windmills.  “On, Rocinante!!”  I cannot promise you this book will touch you as powerfully as it did me, but my final recommendation is Highly Recommended Book / Reading.
On This Day In:
2014 Changing Frequently
2013 Trifles
2012 Simple, Ordinary And Wonderous
2011 Humane Writers

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Today’s additions are two more song lyrics from musicals from my childhood and another poem by Robert Frost.
The first, Camelot, I think of fondly from a thoroughly biased view of history.
In the early 60’s, America in general, and Washington, D.C in particular seemed to me to be a magical place where even a Catholic could grow up to be President.  The majesty of the era has faded with the tragedy of assassination, the reality of adultery and the cynicism of politics before civil rights – but, for “a brief shining moment…”
The second, “The Impossible Dream“, is from the play (and movie): “The Man From LaMancha” which is based on the story of “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes.
I must admit to have fancied that I’ve lived my life learning the hard way most of the time and to have constantly sought to tilt against windmills.
The funny thing is…  I’m not entirely sure that many people would say either of those things about me.  Some would describe me as “traveled”, but not I think  as “Quixotic”.
In any case, Frost’s poem is (of course): “The Road Not Taken“.
Perhaps, for me, the windmills have been more personal and/or perceived than real.
Still, less traveled.  …And that has made all the difference.

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