"Holy Moley: Don Quixote’s Significant Señal"
Readers -- some readers, anyway -- will be pleased to hear that my article on Don Quixote's "mole" has been accepted for publication by the Cervantes Society of America. I received the following note from Professor Thomas Lathrop a couple of days ago:
I am pleased to say that your article "Holy Moley" has been accepted for as early as the Fall number. The [reviewer] . . . has some suggestions, easy fixes.I won't bore anyone with those details of my little failings. Rather, I'll just post the complimentary comments by the the reviewer:
I do indeed like the article . . . . I think it's a great short article; and nothing wrong with short articles if they're good. Lo bueno, si breve, dos veces bueno, right?The Spanish expression comes from the 17th-century Jesuit and writer Baltasar Gracián and means something like "The good, if brief, is twice as good." For anyone who needs a reminder, here's an abstract of my article:
Cervantes is known for using strong irony in his novel Don Quixote to satirize and ridicule various figures. In a famous scene in which a lady in distress named Dorothea describes a certain mole to be found as the identifying mark on the back of the hero who will free her father's kingdom from a fierce giant, Don Quixote is revealed to have precisely that sort of mole . . . more or less. As early as 1777, John Bowle noted the parallel to the story of the Muslim conqueror Tarif, who was identified by the presence of a mole on his right shoulder as the man who would conquer Spain. This tale of Tarif had been related in Miguel de Luna's True History of Don Rodrigo (Historia verdadera del Rey Don Rodrigo), published shortly before the publication of Don Quixote and was surely known by Cervantes. Separately, Mercedes García-Arenal has recently noted the parallel between the Tarif story in Luna's True History and the qisas al-anbiya', i.e., "Stories of the Prophets," adapted from the Qur'an. The specific connection lies in the special mark of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, a 'mole' on his back, which identified him as the "seal of the prophets." Interestingly, Cervantes seems to adapt his passage concerning the revelation of Quixote's mole more closely to the 'mole' of Muhammad, thereby raising the question as to whether or not Cervantes intended to implicitly ridicule Muhammad. The article broaches the answer to this question.As I hinted in my opening remark, some readers might be less than pleased to read this entry (for reasons that are "too much with us . . . late and soon"), but I'm merely a messenger here on what Cervantes might have been trying to say.
Professor Lathrop, who sent me the good news, not only edits the CSA's journal, he has what he refers to as his "Swashbuckling Webpage." Among his honors are his having been "Invested as an Officer in the Order of Isabel la Catolica, by the King of Spain," and his having been "Awarded the Order of Don Quijote by Sigma Delta Pi, the National Spanish Honorary Society."
Those two do sound rather swashbuckling.