Instead of praying to a church saint, Elena Poniatowska looks to the character Don Quixote, created by Miguel de Cervantes, as a guide to life. She directs her prayers to Quixote every night asking him to “not abandon her night or day.”
The French-Mexican author first read the 1605 novel by prolific Spanish writer Cervantes when she was merely 10 years old. The novel marked her first encounter with both the work of Cervantes and the world of the Spanish literature.
“It is the Quixote’s playfulness that make Fernando del Paso and I share in the passion for Cervantes,” said Poniatowska during the conference that offered on Sunday as part of the closing of the academic and literary events of the 44th edition of the International Cervantino Festival.
“Saint Quixote de la Mancha, pray for us! We will not forsake you, we are your squires, the guardians of your ideas, we have the power to become invincible … ” said Poniatowska, also the winner of the 2013 Cervantes Award.
“I prefer to Don Quixote to any saint,” she added.
Fernando Del Paso, also decorated with the Cervantes Award, would have accompanied Poniatowska to the event held on Sunday at the Juárez Theater in Guanajuato. However, for health related reason, was absent.
“In one of Del Paso’s pages, it says that after every defeat, Don Quixote takes refuge in the memory of his readings. We also have to go to literature after a failure,” he said.
The author of “The Night of Tlatelolco” also confessed that she identified with Panza, Don Quixote’s faithful companion.
“I identify with him because since 1953, I’ve lived in the midst of words and phrases that I have collected in thousands of interviews and reports over 63 years of journalistic work and as a writer, and it often seems like nonsense, ” she said.
“If Quixote loses his mind by reading, we lose ours by reading him and even for just a moment we feel we have righted a wrong and saved a misguided,” said Poniatowska.
The shows presented at the 2016 International Cervantino Festival have as a common thread the theme “Cervantes 400. From Madness to Idealism.”
According to the organizers the cultural festival hosted more than 1,000 activities in which 3,465 artists from 38 countries participated.