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Democracy is Meaningless Without a Literate Electorate

"Historical truth is indispensable and irreplaceable for us to know what we were and perhaps what we will be as human collectivities. But what we are as individuals and what we wanted to be and could not really be had therefore to be through fantasy and invention - our secret history - only literature can tell. This is why Balzac wrote that fiction is 'the private history of nations'.

"Literature is a terrible indictment against existence under whatever regime or ideology: a blazing testimony of its insufficiencies, its inability to satisfy us. And, for that reason, it is a permanent corroder of all power structures that would like to see men satisfied and contented. The 'lies' of literary fiction, if they germinate in freedom, prove to us that this was never the case. And these lies are also a permanent conspiracy to prevent this happening in the future."

--Mario Vargas Llosa

Literature is an act of rebellion. Books are dangerous to those who would constrain liberty and suppress thinking. Opportunity to experience the ideas and lives of others expanded exponentially with free blog services and web search engines that allow people to connect around the globe, and to share information with graphics, no matter what language is spoken. This access amplifies our experience of the "blazing testimony of life's insufficiencies", as Vargas Llosa puts it, not to mention, inequalities, as tens of millions of bloggers produce a chaotic array of content. The Internet has changed the commerce and technology of publication, but the Internet is a medium, and it serves the purposes of literature in the same way as movable type.

Groucho Marx About Cocoanuts & Irving Berlin - Always"


"The best book on universal history, the most lasting and extensive and comprehensive and true, would be the one which succeeded in recounting, in all their liveliness and depth, the quarrels, intrigues, parochial plots, and gossip that occur in Carbajosa de la Sierra (a village of 300 souls) between the mayor and his wife, the school teacher and his mate, the town clerk and his girl friend on the one hand, and the priest and his housekeeper, Uncle Roque and Aunty Mezuca on the other, each side assisted by a chorus of both sexes. What else was the Trojan War, to which we owe the Iliad?"

--Miguel de Unamuno

In The Tragic Sense of Life, Miguel Unamuno, another fan of Cervantes', talks about the conflict described in the quotation above by the Peruvian novelist, Mario Vargas Llosa. The basic idea is that the desire for immortality, not only for ourselves but for everything that we love in our world, in the face of certain death, is irrational and unavoidable. For this reason, to be human is to be in this sense, quixotic.

Cervantes illustrated this profound and touching quality of human being, and it is exactly this illustration that makes a good novel. In a fictional tale full of humor, adventure and fantasy, Cervantes comments on the arbitrary and precious quality of customs and conventions of civilization, all in an effort to impose some meaning to existence that is no more substantial than a wisp of foam in the surf. In this context, he lampoons our sacred cows so that even though we ourselves are assailed, we are at the same time presented with the heroism of our most noble intentions despite, and in the face of an indifferent universe, We are laughing at ourselves. This is the paradigm of wisdom, and without it, we are less human.

Several motion pictures, plays and television programs have attempted to capture the spirit of Cervantes' work. It's not easy to do this in film or video because of the historical period and the multitude of stories and subtle references in 126 chapters that combine to create something much greater than the sum of the parts.

A radio play is like reading enhanced with evocative music, sound effects and voicing that directs and inspires the imagination in a powerful way. It is distinct from the way we perceive visual media, which limit the audience to what is seen. Radio evokes images that are limited only by what it is possible to imagine. Radio is also more intimate and creates a rapport with listeners and can work as reading does.

Radio audiences include a cross section of American life. Entertaining content, no matter what medium is used, attracts audiences. To build an audience requires an ongoing series with consistently entertaining stories and characters an audience can identify with. Audiences rely on schedules and programs they can look forward to following. This is the design idea of SDRT's adaptation of Don Quixote.

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Copyright for much of the material on these pages belongs to Michael Winn and San Diego Radio TheaterĀ® or others.
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