Thursday, August 6, 2009

Don Quixote (Quijote) on Ex Libris III

Influences on the World. The novel has inspired many artists such as William Hogarth in the 1700s, Gustav Dore in the 1800s, and Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso in the 1900s. In the 1700s, the French gobelin tapestry industry also created a popular series of four scenes from the story.

It has prompted musical pieces to be written by composers ranging from the classical era Richard Strauss (Opus 35 for cello, performed by prominent musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma) to contemporary folk song writer Gordon Lightfoot. Who could ever forget the song, "The Impossible Dream," from the Broadway Musical, "Man of La Mancha?" This musical was adapted for the stage by Dale Wasserman, music was written by Mitch Leigh, and lyrics were by Joe Darion. It opened in 1965 off-Broadway; with over 2,328 performances it was the third longest running musical of the 1960s.

Filmmakers have also found the story motivational. There have been several popular versions made for the big screen as well as for television. A famous version from 1973 features Peter O'Toole and Sophia Loren. In 2003, a retired business professor from Harvard University even made a film entitled "Passion and Discipline: Don Quixote's Lessons for Leadership."

The world of dance has not been immune to its influence. First created for the Russian Bolshoi Theater in 1869, the Don Quixote Ballet is now performed by famous dance companies the world over. The music was composed by Ludwig Minkus, who was born in Vienna in 1826.

Several words or phrases have become part of our everyday language. To be "quixotic" is to be imaginative, courageous, but usually foolishly so - with an impractical pursuit of ideals; the admirable and the futile combined. "Tilting at windmills," refers to expending one's energy in a futile attack on what cannot be overcome.

Therefore, few genres or mediums remain untouched by this masterpiece. Playing cards, postage stamps, computer games, statuettes, and other memorabilia help keep Quixote's memory alive. There is even a male agouti (a large rodent) namesake at the Wellington Zoo in Australia and a U.S. Don Quixote Solar System Mission whose goal is to crash a spaceship into an asteroid in 2007.

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