David Ross (dyvyd) wrote,
David Ross
dyvyd

Saragossa 4

What I seem to be pointing toward is that the Manuscript Found in Saragossa is that rare polymath literary attempt to encompass the full range of humanity at a specific point in time.  In this case it is the dawning of the Age of Enlightenment that transforms the frame of the supernatural or  religious-based tales, the amorous escapades, the picaresque confessionals, as though through the eyes of an ethnologist who wishes neither to promote nor condemn the objects of his study.

It makes me wonder whether there are antecedents to the story of Diego Hervas related by the Reprobate Pilgrim as a cautionary tale. The man spends his whole life attempting to sum up in encyclopedic fashion all the categories, as well as the content, of human knowledge.  He succeeds in his scholarly effort, but the world takes no notice, and he succumbs to a madness in which his immense erudition becomes merely a jumble of irrational and unresolvable links.

There can be no final summation to this work without much re-reading and contemplation, but it is safe to say that there is much worth pondering in this book.  It contains the trivial and profound, a humanist impulse to raise man above superstition, a broad cross-section of individuals living and breathing large in the expanse of the Mediterranean-linked kingdoms of its time.

If nothing else, I learned that a dog may be loyal but will never fight a duel over a point of honor.  Or to try to make this seem more profound-- that man is the only animal with the capacity to attempt to shape his own nature.
Tags: writers and writing
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