Q is for quixotic quest

I love the fact that many words we use every day come from literature. The notion of quixotism “appeared after the publication of El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha in 1605. Don Quixote, the hero of this novel, written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, dreams up a romantic ideal world which he believes to be real, and acts on this idealism…”

Merriam-Webster’s first definition of quixotic is “foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals.” I happen to like the notion of tilting at windmills; some of the greatest successes of social justice seemed impossible to achieve.

Speaking of impossible, “The Impossible Dream (The Quest)” is a popular song composed by Mitch Leigh, with lyrics written by Joe Darion. “It was written for the 1965 musical Man of La Mancha. It is the main song from the musical and became its most popular hit.

“The song is sung all the way through once in the musical by Don Quixote as he stands vigil over his armor, in response to Aldonza (Dulcinea)’s question about what he means by ‘following the quest’. It is reprised partially three more timesโ€”the last by prisoners in a dungeon as Miguel de Cervantes and his manservant mount the drawbridge-like prison staircase to face trial by the Spanish Inquisition.”

It seemed to have be sung by most of the “grownup” singers of the day. Possibly most notably, on an episode of the sitcom Gomer Pyle, USMC, entitled “The Show Must Go On,” which aired November 3, 1967, watch Marine PFC Pyle (Jim Nabors) transforms from the high-pitched former auto mechanic from Mayberry, NC to a confident, rich baritone.

See also a scene from the movie Man of La Mancha (1972, directed by Arthur Hiller), with Peter O’Toole singing to Sophia Loren.
Do you know what would make a great SCRABBLE word? – quixotry.

ABC Wednesday – Round 12

32 thoughts on “Q is for quixotic quest”

  1. Most of those Scrabble words are forbidden, and many people play where you don’t get points for blank tiles.

    Quixotry IS awesome. So are many geology terms (e.g. quartzite, which is metamorphosed sandstone.)

    I have had many quixotic quests in my day… ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. The musical is still in my memory as if I saw it last week! I found it so beautiful and yet so tragic. My husband and I went to see several musicals.It was the best period of my life!
    Wil, ABCW Team.


  3. I think at one time or another we have all battled windmills.
    Hadn’t thought of that song for quite a while. I really do like it.
    Thank you for all of the information.
    It seems I need to read the book again too.


  4. I love the book/play. Saw it a few years ago on Broadway – it was well done! It’s also my dad’s favorite play and musical score. I also love the image of tilting windmills!


  5. superb word for ‘q’! I’d forgotten that Don Quixote came to literary life so very long ago. That is definitely a classic because look how long it’s been read! I hate modern movie reviewers who term some movies as INSTANT classics!


  6. Wonderful post for “Q”! The music from the movie/play is now going through my mind over and over,not a bad sort of thing at all. I have scenes from the 1972 movie mixed with those of our local JayCees doing the play sometime in the late 1960s all mixed together in my memories, that is what happens when you see things as a kid.


  7. Quixotry, I love it! Love quixotic for Q (and even tried but could not find a photo for it). One of my favorite things about visiting Seville was seeing a plaque proclaiming the site where Cervantes labored over Don Quijote:)


  8. Roger, I love all the attention this post has gotten in comments!

    Man of la Mancha was one of the Broadway albums I would “program” for family dinner hour. When that final “Impossible Dream” came up, Mom and I would always cry… also, the song Aldonza sings about herself, heartbreaking.

    The movie version was pffft for me. After hearing Joan Deiner’s Aldonza, nothing do compare…

    Finally, half my activism has been viewed as quixotic at the time by my sisters, the Tea Party Two. Yet finally, things I worked on, like Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus, Smoke-Free Workplaces, Marriage Equality, all came to fruition, so I feel you should ALWAYS attack the windmill!! Amy


  9. An episode of the 8th Season of the television series Touched by an Angel , aired May 4, 2002, is entitled “The Impossible Dream”. It was written by Brian Bird, directed by Peter H. Hunt and features Luther Vandross as Reggie Hunter, a janitor in his former high school with a great voice that gave up a singing career twenty-five years early. At the end of the episode, he sings The Impossible Dream in a concert to honor his Aunt Charlotte, a choral teacher, who is retiring.


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