Wednesday’s Word: Quixotic
Today’s word is one that has a strong literary connection, much like Bandersnatch from last week. This week’s word is:
The word describes someone who is idealistic to a fault or at the very least, highly impractical in their pursuits. It derives from the lead character in the 1605 book by Miguel Cervantes, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha, or, as it is known in English, Don Quixote. In it, the character of Don Quixote embarks on adventures which spring from inventions of his own making. He fancies himself a noble knight and rides off fighting windmills which he believes to be “giants” (this novel is also where we get the phrase “chasing windmills” which describes the act of fighting an enemy that isn’t really there).
Don Quixote is a melancholy tale to be sure, but there is a sort of endearing quality about him. For though his perceptions are false and his quests foolish, there is a nobility about him and a heroic resolve to face impossible obstacles that gives us pause. Cervantes’ tale is both a cautionary and inspirational one at the same time. We can find in Quixote the example of someone who cares little for the naysayers, for those who would quelch his dreams, and yet at the same time, we come to realize that the blind pursuit of our dreams with no connection to reality is ultimately a pitiable thing.
In my sci-fi fantasy romance, The Spirit of Caledonia, I used the word quixotic to describe one of the characters, or at least what his friends thought about him. If you want to find out which character that was, be sure to download it from Amazon. The story is free at the time of this writing.
One last treat before I finish. Like many great novels, Don Quixote has inspired other artists. One of those is the musician Gordon Lightfoot. While it won’t tell you much about the plot, the song he wrote about Cervantes’ errant knight is a beautiful homage to this ironic hero and so I’ve included it here for your enjoyment.