Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating and Other Cervantes Quotes Worth Prolonged Pondering

Don Quixote de la Mancha
“The proof of the pudding is the eating.”
 ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

There's nothing quite like a quote with pith. What I find amazing is how many of the maxims we use today come from two sources, William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.

In earlier times (two decades ago) every serious writer owned a handful of companions: Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, Roget's Thesaurus or Rodale's Synonym Finder, and Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, along with a good dictionary. Today, writer's still keep a copy of The Elements of Style close by, whereas the rest is accomplished with a Google search, which is how today's collection of quotes were assembled.

Shakespeare and Cervantes were contemporaries. One lived in England and the other in Spain. Both were poets and playwrights. The latter's most significant work, Don Quixote, is frequently cited as the first modern European novel. It's influence has extended globally and through the centuries.

My first exposure to the story of Don Quixote was through the 1972 Broadway musical The Man of La Mancha. (I saw a local troop reproduce it at the Morristown Theater.) It made such an impact, young idealist that I was, that years later I purchased Dale Wasserman's book and a CD of the soundtrack which I'd listened to so frequently I probably knew every song by heart. Eventually I borrowed from the library an audio book of the original source for this inspired work, Cervantes' magnum opus.

Among the many sayings that have been extracted from his work, this is a good starting point: “A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.”

What follows is a small selection of such proverbs Cervantes left for posterity. They are best enjoyed while reading slowly so that the flavor may be savored.

“Honesty's the best policy.”

“All sorrows are less with bread. ”

“He who sings scares away his woes.”

“Thou hast seen nothing yet.”

“There were no embraces, because where there is great love there is often little display of it.”

“Time ripens all things; no man is born wise.”

“Facts are the enemy of truth.”

“Hunger is the best sauce in the world.”

“Those who will play with cats must expect to be scratched.”

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.”

“Virtue is persecuted by the wicked more than it is loved by the good.”

“Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise.”

“What man can pretend to know the riddle of a woman's mind?”

“Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world”

“In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.”

“The wounds received in battle bestow honor, they do not take it away...”

“Diligence is the mother of good fortune.”

“Until death it is all life”

“One who loses wealth loses much. One who loses a friend loses more. But one who loses courage loses all.”

“Many go out for wool, and come home shorn themselves.”

“Good painters imitate nature, but bad ones spew it up.”

"Can we ever have too much of a good thing?"

"To give the devil his due."

"Plain as the nose on a man's face."

"Why do you lead me a wild-goose chase?"

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

"All is not gold that glisters."

* * * *
If you like these, here are some sources where you can find more.

Meantime... make the most of your day. '"It's good to live and learn."

1 comment:

Shawna said...

Very interesting! I just love proverbs. Actually I did a painting based on the bird in hand quote(you can find it in my online gallery here http://www.shawnagilmore.com/2013.html)
Another classic to add to the reference list is:
Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
It's a lovely read!