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Wonderful thing about Quixote

July 01, 2007

THANKS for an insightful article on the Don ["The Quixotic Don," June 24]. Perhaps through the knight of La Mancha, Cervantes sought to communicate a sense of wonder that had been lost in the Spain of his day and could only be found among those who returned from the New World with fantastical tales of strange lands. I think the Spanish-speaking Americas have managed to preserve that sense of wonder at everyday things which we identify with Don Quixote and Sancho.

DAMIAN BACICH

Los Angeles

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I just finished reading Reed Johnson's scholarly yet readable article on the non-Inquisition circumstances which most likely affected Cervantes' creation of "Don Quixote" and the ongoing, indelible effects of the knight errant on the Latin American psyche for over four centuries.

I was reminded of my college studies of many moons ago during which I came to believe that art, particularly literature and theater arts, have been perhaps the most honestly reflective representations of the societies in which their authors have resided, even though those revelations were often cleverly hidden well within the story lines.

I was also struck by what seems to me to be an important and all too obvious lesson yet to be learned by the powers that be in Washington, D.C., in terms of how we should treat, but rarely have, our neighbors to the south (and just about everywhere else as well).

Rather than exercising our usual hubris in continuing to unsuccessfully export our values as being the "right ones," it seems to me that the starting point of our relationships with virtually all other countries should be a full understanding of the values of those societies, even though they may not appear obvious to the uninformed.

Limiting ourselves to so-called and often imagined "shared values" beyond the almighty buck are not nearly enough anymore.

I wonder how much could be accomplished by going out of our way to demonstrate a real commitment to understanding, appreciating and respecting the values foreign societies hold most dear, rather than just giving them lip service? If the American experience in Iraq teaches us nothing else, it is surely that.

STUART KERN

Rancho Palos Verdes

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