Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It's Complicated - Part III

Continuing the story of Sir Ulrich and his courtly love:

In his next adventure, Sir Ulrich manages to out-Quixote Don Quixote - by embarking on a jousting quest from Venice to Bohemia, while dressed as Venus, in one of a dozen custom-made white gowns.          

From which we learn that cross-dressing was a 'thing' back in 1227. And have we mentioned yet that good Sir Ulrich was married?                

Anyway, let us continue:

"Having completed his epochal feat [see above] of love service, Ulrich waited for his reward, and at long last it came:  the [Lady] sent word that he might visit her.  Yet he was to expect no warm welcome; she specified that he must come in the disguise of a leper and and take his place among the lepers who would be visiting her to beg for alms. But of course this monstrous indignity fazed the faithful Ulrich not in the least. Nor did he falter when she knowingly let him, disguised in his rags, spend that night in a ditch in the rain. Nor was he outraged when, the next night, he was finally allowed to climb a rope up the castle wall to her chamber, only to find it lit by a hundred tapers [candles] and staffed by eight maids-in-waiting who hovered about her where she lay in bed."

But fear not!  This blog stays PG, since, after all,

"... [S]exual outlet was not really the point of all this. Ulrich had not been laboring nearly 15 years for so ordinary a commodity; his real reward had always been in his suffering, striving, and yearning."

And that, dear reader, brings us to the conclusion of Sir Ulrich's adventures, or at least as much as you're going to find here.  Remember that this story only predates Cervantes' "Man of La Mancha" by about 300 years!  The chivalry that Cervantes was making fun of had almost - but not quite - died out by then.  In the novel, Aldonza is not a kitchen slut, but simply a local farm girl with whom Don Quixote has never actually spoken.  Transforming her into a prostitute only sharpens the satire, while staying loyal to the spirit of the novel.  Think of it as "The Onion Does 'Don Quixote'".   So now do you understand the relationship between Don Quixote and Dulcinea/Aldonza?  Oh well, it's complicated.  See? There's a Facebook status for everything.

Source:   abridged from The Natural History of Love by Morton M. Hunt (New York: Knopf, 1959), pp 133-138, as presented in Sociology: a text with adapted readings by L. Broom & P. Selznick (New York: Harper & Row, 5th ed 1973) pp 331-333.

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