January 28, 2023

Cannon of Toledo

First Appearance: When the curate, father Pero Perez, takes Don Quixote back to his village encaged in an oxcart, he looks back and sees “some six or seven men, well dressed and equipped, riding cannon’s mules.” After the group speedily overtake his procession of “cart, peace-officers, Sancho [Panza], Rocinante, the curate, the barber, and an imprisoned Don Quixote,” the curate learns that the man in charge of the men is the Cannon of Toledo.

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He Asks About Don Quixote: Gripped by curiosity, the Cannon asks the priest “why Don Quixote is being transported so rudely.” Upon learning that Don Quixote is imprisoned in an oxcart so that he does not do himself any harm, the Cannon wonders “why he is so different than the normal sort of man.” After a brief conversation, the Cannon and the Priest ride ahead to discuss the cause of Don Quixote’s insanity, when it began, and what they can do about it.

The Cannon Encourages Don Quixote to Read Devotional Books: After the Cannon hears Don Quixote’s backstory he says that “so-called” chivalry books are prejudicial to the public good because they are absurd stories, depicting impossible events, without a clear relation between the parts and the whole. For this reason, he tries to get Don Quixote to read devotional books instead of chivalry books by saying that “Don Quixote [should] restore [himself] to the bosom of good sense, by applying his splendid gifts of mind to different reading matter that will benefit [his] conscience and increase [his] honor!” According to the Catholic Cannon, reading devotional books about Catholic Saints “would be reading matter worthy of [Don Quixote’s] excellent understanding, making him knowledgeable about history, enamored of virtue, instructed in goodness, improved in habits, [and] brave but not rash.” Don Quixote summarizes the Cannon’s opinion of chivalry books by saying that it is the Cannon’s opinion “that such books had done [him] great harm, inasmuch as they [make him] take leave of [his] senses and confine [him] to a cage, and that it would be better to mend [his] ways and change [his] reading matter, turning to other more truthful books that amuse and instruct more effectively.”

The Cannon Praises Chivalry Books: Despite his strictures on chivalry stories, the Cannon finds that “they provide subject matter with which a good intelligence can express itself, describing shipwrecks, storms, skirmishes and battles on a broad and spacious canvas on which the pen can wander freely.”

The Cannon’s View of Literature: Since the Cannon has “written more than a hundred pages of his own chivalry book,” he thinks that art should follow life. Similarly, the Cannon thinks that the state of literature in 17th century Spain is more fashionable than substantive. To correct this shortfall, the Cannon suggests to assign “some sensible person in Madrid to scrutinize all plays before they are performed so that good plays can be discovered and endorsed by the authorities.” Later, the Cannon arranges for Don Quixote to be freed from his cage (provided that he does not try to escape) so that they can talk freely about life and literature, and what a gentlemen, like him, should, and should not, read. While the Canon tries to convince Don Quixote to give-up chivalry books in favor of devotional or historical books, Don Quixote tries to persuade the Cannon that reading about knight errantry is worthwhile because such stories are inspiring, amusing, and instructive. At the end of their conversation, the Cannon asks the Priest to keep him informed about whether Don Quixote recovers from his madness, or not, and if his mind continues to be deranged by chivalry.

The Cannon’s Instructions To Sancho Panza As Governor: When Sancho Panza talks about collecting rent as Governor of Barataria, the Catholic Cannon reminds him that what he says might apply to enjoying the revenues from his lands but that “the lord of an estate must concern himself with the administration of justice, and this is where his ability, good judgement, [and] honest determination to do what is right comes into play.” Moreover, the Catholic Cannon tells Sancho Panza that “God favours the good intentions of [a] simpleton as much as he obstructs the evil intentions of a simple man.”

The Canon is Surprised that Sancho Panza Wants To Be An Earl: When Sancho Panza says that “once he gets his hands on an earldom [he would do] as he likes because he has what it takes to govern it, [the Cannon] is astounded at Sancho’s simplicity and his longing to possess the earldom that his master promises him.”

Originally posted 2019-12-26 14:05:03.

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Originally posted 2020-02-19 02:50:42.