Quijotismo & Menardismo

By September 13, 2016 Uncategorized

Wikipedia = NONE

(only a bit here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quixotism)


“quijotismo” & “menardismo”

The relationship between Spain and Don Quixote is rather complex. In spite of its early success, the country’s intelligentsia scorned it. Lope de Vega, Cervantes’s contemporary and rival as well as the most famous poet and playwright of the period, called it “inferior.” Since then, a national debate has ensured about its qualities and overall value. Among others, figures like Unamuno and José Ortega y Gasset have even attempted to extrapolate from its pages a distinct ideology, called Quijotismo: the capacity, in the face of adversity, to stick to one’s own ideals. For Spain, this ideology has been a double-edged sword: at times it has pushed it into depression, economic and psychological, and on other occasions it has been the inspiration in the finding of new collective goals.

In Latin America, which for centuries functioned as the principal satellite of the Spanish Empire, another ideology has emerged, again linked to Don Quixote: Menardismo. It originates in Borges’s short story “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” about a French symbolist poet who at the end of the nineteenth century decides to rewrite—not to copy but to rewrite from scratch—Don Quixote. The story has been read widely as a metaphor for the Latin American approach to art: through a stream of outside influences, it futilely seeks its own distinctiveness. Menardismo, then, finds uniqueness in a copy, declaring it authentic.


On Quixotismo:

“Its central tenet is the implicit concept of rebellion: paraphrasing Montaigne, to sacrifice one’s life for a dream is to know its true worth.”

On Menardismo:

“The capacity to be creative in a landscape defined by unoriginality.”


For Stavans, Menardismo proclaims that the former Spanish colonies in the Americas, though belated culturally, produce works that are every bit as original and important as the European works that have influenced them.


Stavans coins the term “Menardismo” to describe the “spongelike quality” of post-Modernista Latin American poetry, its capacity for assimilating and reshaping other cultures so as to make them “acquire a new authenticity.” His reference is to the short story “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” by Argentine Jorge Luis Borges, who is represented here by a half-dozen poems, including “The Cyclical Night,” a lovely rumination about mankind’s infinite capacity for star-struck gazing at the timeless cosmos.

Quixotism (Wikipedia)

Quixotism is impracticality in pursuit of ideals, especially those ideals manifested by rash, lofty and romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action. It also serves to describe an idealism without regard to practicality. An impulsive person or act might be regarded as quixotic.

Quixotism is usually related to “over-idealism”, meaning an idealism that doesn’t take consequence or absurdity into account. It is also related to naïve romanticism and to utopianism. …

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