By Kate Galbraith
New York Times
November 28, 2008
Ports, like most businesses, have suffered badly in the recent downturn.
At the Port of Long Beach, shipping volume is off 10 percent from last year – and unwanted cars are stacking up on the docks, as my colleague Matt Richtel reported last week.
On the Gulf, Corpus Christi and Beaumont, Tex., are seeing a good deal of activity, as are ports along the Great Lakes.
From the newsletter:
Wind power is pushing Duluth port to a new age
The explosive growth of wind turbine imports is keeping MnDOT and the port busy.
By LARRY OAKES
November 23, 2008
DULUTH -- In 2005, a ship called the Bavaria arrived in Duluth-Superior from Europe with a visually stunning cargo the gritty taconite and coal port had never seen: gargantuan yet somehow slender blades, hubs and shafts meant for towering wind turbines.
Since then, America's increasing embrace of wind power has brought the port a windfall, with shipments surging to make the head of the Great Lakes a major funnel for turbines destined for the Upper Midwest and parts of Canada. Jason Paulson, operations manager for Lake Superior Warehousing Co., which transfers turbines from ships to specially designed semitrailer truck caravans, said the port is on track to handle a record 2,000 windmill components this year for several manufacturers, most bound for wind farms in Montana, Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. Shipments of wind turbines through the port shot from 34,080 freight tons in 2005 to 307,000 freight tons last year.
The Duluth Seaway Port Authority reported this year that transportation of wind turbines was the single largest factor in making fiscal year 2007 its most profitable.
"The growth is explosive," Paulson said. "There were times this season when we were moving 12 windmills a day. It's become the major portion of our heavy-lift business."
Most components are imports from large manufacturers such as Siemens AG, a German conglomerate that this year shipped 76 turbines from its factory in Denmark through Duluth to a wind farm under construction in Adair, Iowa, west of Des Moines. The delivery required six ships and more than 500 semitrailer trucks.
But the port also is seeing growth in exports of windmill components from companies such as LM Glasfiber, a Danish firm that shipped a load of turbine blades this year from its Grand Forks, N.D., factory to a wind farm in Brazil.
Port of Sacramento energized by cargo for wind far
By Bob Shallit
Aug. 09, 2008
The Sacramento Bee
Port of Sacramento Manager Mike Luken has been hearing people talk all summer about the unusual shipments arriving at his docks.
Typical comments: "'What the heck do you have over there?'" he reports. Or, "It looks like you're shipping missiles through the port."
Not missiles. Wind turbine parts.
In a boon for the port's summer business, Escondido-based enXco Inc. is delivering 11 shiploads of massive components destined for the company's new Shiloh II wind farm near Rio Vista.
About half of the parts – made in Germany and South Korea – are sitting on the ground at the port's West Sacramento facility. The rest are due in coming weeks.
Once all have arrived, they'll be transported to the Shiloh site, where 75 turbines are expected to be in operation by year's end, eventually producing 150 megawatts of electricity for PG&E, says enXco spokeswoman Sandra Briner.
These are big turbines, 271 feet high. Each has four sections and three blades that are 148 feet long. A complete unit weighs about 277 tons.
Multiply that by 75 and you have better than 20,700 tons of energy-producing parts coming through the port. It's a huge piece of business – worth about $275,000, Luken says – and likely to grow, given federal tax credits offered to wind farmers.
[JUST WHAT AMERICA NEEDS - MORE OUTSOURCING OF HIGH TECHNOLOGY 'GREEN' MANUFACTURING JOBS THAT HARMS U.S. COMPETITIVENESS IN THIS BURGEONING SECTOR!!]
Is it enough to help the ever-struggling port return to profitability?
That answer may be blowin' in the wind.
Let them eat cake: It's a wonder that new hires at Freeport Bakery don't gain 10 pounds their first month on the job.
As part of their training, they get homework: Employees, many of them high schoolers, are sent home with several slices of cake each evening so they can familiarize themselves with the company's products.
After they've worked their way through cakes, new hires move on to cookies and pastries.
"The families love it," says Marlene Goetzeler, co-owner with husband Walter of the popular bakery at 2966 Freeport Blvd. "They ask, 'Can she be trained again? Can I come in for training?' "
The sales staff is also expected to know every ingredient in all of Freeport's baked goods. Especially nuts and alcohol.
Says Goetzeler: "Do you really want to sell a champagne cake to somebody for their 2-year-old's birthday?"
The company's extensive training regimen, with advanced instruction for more senior employees, is cited as a national leader in the current issue of Modern Baking magazine.
The story has no information on employee weight gains.
Going nowhere: Speaking of Freeport Bakery, its move to the Broadway corridor now looks doubtful.
The company a year ago announced plans to move from its cramped quarters in Land Park to spacious new digs about a mile away, in a mixed-used complex envisioned at 19th and Broadway.
But the new site's development has been so slow that Goetzeler figures moving there is now unlikely.
"They haven't even torn down the (existing) buildings," she says. "By the time (they're) ready for us, I'll be ready to retire."
She's still willing to relocate "if the perfect place and opportunity come up." Otherwise, Goetzeler says, Freeport Bakery will stay put and "do the best (it) can."
Many of the bakery's neighbors will be happy to hear that, she notes. After news broke about the Broadway move, she says, "I got hate mail."
Let the gaming begin: Just in time for this weekend's launch of the Olympics, Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln is airing new TV spots showing gamblers waving flags, holding bouquets and taking victory "laps," arms raised in triumph.
"Sledgehammer subtle," says Bob Beyn, president of Seraphein Beyn, describing the Olympics-themed spots his Sacramento ad agency created with Trapeze Ltd., a midtown video production firm.
The commercials run through August. Some will be placed on local sports shows. But none that carry Olympics coverage, presumably because they're too pricey, Beyn says.
Casino ads tend to be "cookie-cutter," Beyn says, showing "happy people winning and eating."
Thunder Valley's spots go for the gold, showing jubilant winners but with humorous Olympian touches.
Wind’s Splash at U.S. Ports
Manufacturing jobs are among the highest-profile signs of the industry’s impact on the economy, but activity from wind energy is rippling through other sectors as well.
By Mary Kate Francis
Windletter, Volume 27, Issue 3
View from Washington
While the wind industry often touts its job creation in the manufacturing sector, there is another segment of the economy that is reaping the economic benefits of wind power: transportation. Wind energy has a multifaceted impact on the transportation sector, for it requires the use of ships, rail cars, trucks, and ports to move equipment from manufacturing facilities to construction sites.
One of the places where wind’s economic impact is most visible is at ports—almost as visible as at the very project development sites where turbines and towers are rising from the ground, or at manufacturing plants, where well-paid workers are busy building components to keep up with insatiable demand. As the wind industry grows at a rapid pace, the clean renewable energy source is modifying the face and the pace of business at American harbors.
Growth in jobs around the country [WINDPOWER MANUFACTURED ABROAD!!]
Wind’s economic impact can be seen at ports literally around the country. Among those busiest with importing wind industry products are Longview, Wash.; Vancouver, Wash.; and Stockton, Calif., on the West Coast, and Corpus Christi and Beaumont, Texas, on the Gulf Coast. The Great Lakes region also has seen import and export activity of turbine components, particularly at the ports of Milwaukee, Wis., and Duluth-Superior, Minn.
Several port authorities are able to [RE-]define job growth in wind industry terms. Betty Nowak, marketing manager at the Port of Milwaukee, reports a 500% increase in labor hours worked by longshoremen at the dock over the last five years, as wind industry equipment has increasingly passed through the harbor. At the Port of Longview, meanwhile, labor hours worked by union members in unloading wind energy components at the port's docks grew from 1,257 in 2003 to over 21,000 in 2006, according to Marie Wise, communications and public affairs manager at the port. She notes that the growth in labor hours reflects both job creation and an overall upswing in the local economy.
At the Port of Vancouver, Alastair Smith, senior director of marketing and operations, reports an additional hire of 26 longshoremen in 2007, and an overall increase in employees of about 50% over the last five years—both statistics of which are "significantly, but not fully, attributable to the wind industry." Smith notes that that the work of handling wind project cargo requires a substantially larger amount of labor hours than other types of freight; thus, without the wind energy business, his port would not have seen as much job growth.
Gary Nicholson, president of Lake Superior Warehousing Co., attributes the significant employment growth at the Port of Duluth-Superior to the substantial increase in the port’s handling of wind industry equipment. "We have experienced an increase in wind turbine component shipments that is between two and three times as much as what we’ve handled before…resulting in at least a doubling of wages at the port directly," says Nicholson, speaking of the past year. Nicholson also notes that this increase has indirectly boosted the local economy, with transportation services, highway patrol escorts, and local hotels and restaurants all having experienced upticks in business.
Policy support as a catalyst for growth
Several port officials attribute their businesses' growth to the political support they are finding in their states and regions for renewable electricity. At the Port of Beaumont, which handled about 300 complete wind turbine units in 2007, John Roby, director of customer service, says that at least some of those wind industry customers are interested in establishing long-term partnerships for several years into the future.
“A lot of our future success depends on government regulations and tax credits,” Roby notes. In that regard, he acknowledges that his trust in the continued strength of the industry comes from the state of Texas’s commitment to generate 5,580 MW of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
Vancouver’s Smith also envisions steadily increasing business from the wind industry. “We supported eight different projects [in 2007],” says Smith. That’s up from previous years, in which the port supported about one project annually since 2002. Citing Washington’s and Oregon’s renewable electricity standards, Smith says that the port expects to have increasing business relations with the wind industry, and ultimately “will benefit” from these policies.
[HOW ARE SHORT-TERM U.S. STATE & CITY GOVERNMENT POLICIES NOT CONTRIBUTING TO THE INCREASING DEFICIT IN U.S.-MANUFACTURED GREEN TECHNOLOGIES & JOB SKILLS!! AN INCREASE IN UNION PORT & TRANSPORTATION JOBS ARE LOW-SKILLED JOBS THAT WILL NOT MAKE UP FOR THIS DEFICIT, SORRY TO SAY!!]
Certainly, a steady policy environment for wind is encouraging several ports to make investments in their facilities. The Port of Vancouver is considering an investment of approximately $4.5 million in a second mobile harbor crane in 2008, reports Smith. Additionally, the port is making a $75-$80 million investment to increase its rail capacity from 45,000 to 160,000 rail cars. The project will create a “capacity and velocity increase” in the port’s ability to move wind industry components from one stage of the transportation process to another, ultimately enabling “much more efficient operation,” Smith says.
At the Port of Longview, meanwhile, the 2008 budget includes $4.5 million for purchase of a mobile harbor crane, reports Wise. She says this investment will enable the port to “maintain a sustainable market position in the wind energy industry.” Longview, like many other ports, is also clearing acreage adjacent to its terminal for temporary storage of wind turbine components.
A piece of the action [???]
The ability of ports to serve the wind industry is "a specialty," says Lake Superior Warehousing Co.’s Nicholson. "It seems simple, but it’s not. It requires ground space and big equipment."
Meeting the transportation needs of the wind industry often requires investments by ports, but it also brings a large financial return. So, as ports like Beaumont and Milwaukee enjoy the economic benefits of being a link on the wind energy industry supply chain, other harbors are seeking to get in on the action. The Port of Lake Charles, La., for one, is looking to broaden the type of cargo it handles from mainly grains and forest products to wind industry components. Derek Schierloh, manager of marketing and trade development, reports that Lake Charles is in the process of spending approximately $125 million on developing the port and its three terminals for this purpose. The port is also in the process of building a loop track to enable trains to be moved around the terminal without disconnecting the cars; in addition, the port is considering nearly doubling its 16 acres of open paved storage space to 30 acres in order to better accommodate the wind industry.
Invariably, such ports want a piece of what Nicholson and others are already experiencing: the rewards of joining wind power’s supply chain. "In a general way, [the wind industry] has had a very positive economic impact on our port…," Nicholson says. "We just keep trying every day to do the right thing, execute our work every day so [the business] keeps coming back…We’re doing everything we can to serve the industry. We’re very proud to be a part of it."
Mary Kate Francis is advocacy communications specialist at AWEA
[THE GREEN DON QUIXOTE!]
[EUROPEAN & CHINESE WIND POWER INDUSTRIES ARE RAPIDLY EXPANDING AT THE EXPENSE OF U.S. COMPETITIVENESS. See: How Can Obama Deliver Millions of U.S. 'GREEN COLLAR' Renewable Energy (Wind) Manufacturing Jobs If They Are Mostly Owned/Outsourced By/To Europe?, ITSSD Journal on Energy Security, at: http://itssdenergysecurity.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-can-obama-deliver-millions-of-us.html ; How Can Obama Deliver Millions of 'GREEN COLLAR' Jobs If Most Windmill Manufacturing Jobs Will be Outsourced to China and India?, ITSSD Journal on Energy Security, at: http://itssdenergysecurity.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-can-obama-deliver-millions-of-green.html ].
[AS WITH DON QUIXOTE, THERE IS NO LIMIT TO RELATIVISM IF ONE HAS ECO-IMAGINATION!!! VICE IS INSTANTANEOUSLY TRANSFORMED INTO VIRTUE!! FICTION BECOMES REALITY! REALITY BECOMES FICTION SUBJECT TO 'CHANGE'! THE ONCE INSANE, BECOMES NOT ONLY SANE, BUT EMINENTLY REASONABLE!!]
Nabokov’s Lectures on Don Quixote: Introduction
I absolutely loved Vladimir Nabokov’s “Introduction,” the first in his six part series on Don Quixote. It begins thusly:
We shall do our best to avoid the fatal error of looking for so-called “real life” in novels. Let us not try and reconcile the fiction of facts with the facts of fiction. Don Quixote is a fairy tale, so is Bleak House, so is Dead Souls. Madame Bovary and Anna Karenin are supreme fairy tales. But without these fairy tales the world would not be real. A masterpiece of fiction is an original world and as such is not likely to fit the world of the reader.
Well, that sure is lovely! Nabokov then advances his point, explaining that “real life,” if it is anything at all, “is but a piece of fiction, a tissue of statistics.” Therefore, since the notion of “real life” is in itself built on boring generalities, we should be glad that fiction does not often depict life as we understand it.
… the more vivid a new details in a work of fiction, then the more it departs from so-called “real life,” since “real life” is the generalized epithet, the average emotion, the advertised multitude, the commonsensical world.
Having this dispatched with a serious bugaboo, Nabokov proceeds to consider, in brief, some introductory concerns. Here are a few of them:
The “Where?” of Don Quixote
Nabokov here explains that the Spain depicted in Cervantes’ book has little resemblance to the country’s actual geography:
If [...] we examine Don Quixote’s excursions topographically, we are confronted with a ghastly muddle. I shall spare you its details and only mention the fact that throughout those adventures there is a mass of monstrous inaccuracies at every step.
Then that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about!
The “When?” of the Book
Sylvia has already posted a wonderful timeline, so I won’t bother reminding you that Cervantes was a contemporary of Shakespeare, or that the Spanish Empire was at its height during his lifetime. I will, however, quote Nabokov at length on the book’s place in the history of narrative:
What we shall witness now is the evolution of the epic form, the shedding of its metrical skin, the hoofing of its feet, a sudden fertile cross between the winged monster of the epic and the specialized prose form of entertaining narration, more or less a domesticated mammal, if I may pursue the metaphor to its lame end. The result is a fertile hybrid, a new species, the European novel.
As you can see, reading the lectures of a great novelist has its perks.
The General Comments of Critics
In the Foreward, Guy Davenport explained that one of Nabokov’s chief goals was to dispel the hyperventilating style of criticism that surrounds this novel. So he begins this section with:
Some critics, a very vague minority long dead, have tried to prove that Don Quixote is but a stale farce. Others have maintained that Don Quixote is the greatest novel ever written. A hundred years ago one enthusiastic French critic, Sainte-Beuve, called it “the Bible of Humanity.” Let us not fall under the spell of these enchanters.
Nabokov has little patience for this sort of talk, nor does he care to argue about whether Cervantes was as good as Shakespeare (he’s not, according the Nabokov), or whether he was a Protestant Reformer or a militant Catholic.
In conclusion, here is a lovely snippet from the lecture’s final paragraph:
We should, therefore, imagine Don Quixote and his squire as two little silhouettes ambling in the distance against an ample flaming sunset, and their two huge black shadows, one of them especially elongated, stretching across the open country of centuries and reaching us here.
DON QUIXOTE RESTORED
By Guy Davenport
New York Times
February 13, 1983
The following article will appear as the foreword to ''Lectures on 'Don Quixote' '' by Vladimir Nabokov, to be published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich later this month.
''I REMEMBER with delight,'' Vladimir Nabokov said in 1966 to Herbert Gold, who had traveled to Montreux to interview him, ''tearing apart 'Don Quixote,' a cruel and crude old book, before 600 students in Memorial Hall, much to the horror and embarrassment of some of my more conservative colleagues.'' Tear it apart he did, for good critical reasons, but he also put it back together. Cervantes' masterpiece was not in Nabokov's syllabus at Cornell, he was apparently not fond of it, and when he began preparing his Harvard lectures on it (Harvard having insisted that he not omit it) his first discovery was that American professors had over the years gentrified the cruel and crude old book into a genteel and whimsical myth about appearance and reality. So first of all he had to find the text for his students under all the prissy humbug a long tradition of misreading had sifted over it. Nabokov's new reading is an event in modern criticism.
Nabokov's intention to polish these lectures given at Harvard in 1951-1952 and at Cornell from 1948 to 1959 was never realized, and those of us who were not among ''the 600 young strangers'' enrolled in Humanities 2 at Harvard, spring semester 1951-1952, must read Nabokov on Cervantes from notes that survived in manila folders, scrupulously and splendidly edited by Fredson Bowers, the most distinguished of American bibliographers.
Harvard's Memorial Hall, where Nabokov read these lectures, is as symbolic a place for them as the most fastidious ironist could wish. It is a gaudy Victorian pile that Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee could assure us is precisely the bamboozled composite of medieval architecture he saw in his dream. It was designed as a pilot example of Collegiate Gothic in 1878 by William Robert Ware and Henry Van Brunt, to memorialize the soldiers slain by quixotic Confederates in the Civil War. In this building precipitated from the imagination of Sir Walter Scott and John Ruskin, in this consummately quixotic architectural rhetoric, what could be more fitting than that a connoisseur of ridiculous postures and keen nuances should jolt us awake in the matter of the ingenuous old gentleman from la Mancha?
Once, when I was teaching ''Don Quixote'' at the University of Kentucky, a student raised his long Baptist arm to say that he had come to the conclusion that the hero of our book is crazy. That, I said, is something that has been discussed for 400 years and now we, snug in this classroom on an autumn afternoon, get to have our shot at it. ''Well,'' he muttered with some querulousness, ''I find it hard to believe that they would write a whole book about a crazy man.'' His theory is correct. The book Nabokov took apart so deftly at Harvard was a book evolved from Cervantes' text, so that when one brings up ''Don Quixote'' in any discussion, the problem of whose Quixote arises. Jules Michelet's? Miguel de Unamuno's? Joseph Wood Krutch's? For Cervantes' character, like Hamlet, Sherlock Holmes and Robinson Crusoe, began to stray from his book almost as soon as he was invented. Not only has there been a steady sentimentalization of the Don and his sidekick, Sancho Panza - sweet, charmingly befuddled Don Quixote! comic Sancho, so picturesquely a levelheaded peasant! - but a displacement as well of the text by its illustrators, especially Gustave Dore, Honore Daumier (and nowadays Picasso and Dali), its celebrators, imitators, dramatizers, and users of the word ''quixotic,'' which means anything you want it to mean. It should mean something like ''hallucinated,'' ''self-hypnotized'' or ''play in collision with reality.'' How it came to mean ''admirably idealistic'' is an explanation Nabokov undertakes in these lectures.
To put Cervantes' Don Quixote back into Cervantes' text Nabokov (encouraged by the need to do so after looking into a batch of American critics and their laughably irresponsible accounts of the book) first wrote out a chapter-by-chapter summary - which Mr. Bowers helpfully includes. The diligence of this summary can only shame those teachers who still have a week's go at ''Don Quixote'' in sophomore survey courses all over the Republic without having read the book since they themselves were sophomores, without ever having read Part II, or (I know of one) not having read the book at all. For ''Don Quixote,'' as Nabokov knew with some pain and annoyance, is not the book people think it is. Far too many interpolated novellas (of the kind we cheerfully forget mar ''The Pickwick Papers'') impede the plotless plot. We all rewrite the book in our heads so that it is a picaresque succession of events: the appropriation of the barber's basin as Mambrino's helmet, the tilt at the windmills (which became the archetypal quintessence of the book), charging the sheep and so on. Many people wholly innocent of the text can supply you with a plausible plot summary.
What Nabokov's eyes kept seeing as he prepared his lectures was the accurately perceived fact that the book elicits cruel laughter. Cervantes' old man who had read himself into insanity and his smelly squire were created to be the butt of mockery. Quite early, readers and critics began to sidestep this Spanish fun and to interpret that story as another kind of satire: one in which an essentially sane, humane soul in a crass and unromantic world can only appear as insane.
The problem is not simple. Spain, which has traditionally rejected outsiders, has no talent (like China or the United States, for example) for accommodating them. In Cervantes' lifetime there was the hysterical expulsion of Jews, Moors and converts of Jewish and Islamic origins. Spain kept the gladiatorial slaughters in an arena (for the amusement of the populace) long after all the rest of the Roman Empire had abandoned them. The national entertainment, the bullfight, sets Spain aside among civilized people even today. The historical moment in which ''Don Quixote'' was written, the reign of Philip II, that paranoid fanatic who styled himself the Most Catholic King, is one we have silvered over with a moonlight of Romance. Nabokov was lecturing in the hotbed of Spanish romanticizing. Lowell and Longfellow had invented a Spain which has stuck in the American imagination (as witness the musical ''Man of la Mancha'') and which, pitifully, American tourists flock to Spain to find.
And yet, in its way, the Spain of Philip II was quixotic. Its nobles owned suits of armor in which no cavalryman would dare try to conduct a battle. Philip, practical, nattering fussbudget of a king, used to stand his empty suit of armor at attention to review his troops. He himself was inside the palace, among his voluptuous Titians, doing the accounts, reading and annotating every letter sent and received in his network of embassies and spies as wide as from the New World to Vienna, as deep as from Rotterdam to Gibraltar. He, if any model is to be found, is Don Quixote, but an anti-Quixote. Like the Don, he lived in a dream whose illusory fabric kept tearing. He burnt heretics, but how do you know a heretic is a heretic? Was he not in the same epistemological hot spot as Don Quixote seeing sheep as sheep but also as Moors? Philip's cruel spies were forever hauling people who said they were good Catholics to the torturer on the suspicion that they were (if you knew how to find out) insincere converts, Humanists, Protestants, Jews, Moslems, atheists, witches or God knows what.
EUROPE was going through a time in which reality began to flipflop. Hamlet teased Polonius with the ambiguous shapes of clouds. Don Quixote's abilities to fool himself are a focus of the age's anxieties. Identity, for the first time in European history, became a matter of opinion or of conviction. [IN THE 21st CENTURY, IT STILL IS!!] Chaucer's laughter at ''pigges bones'' was not skepticism of authentic relics to be venerated. But in ''Don Quixote'' the confusion of a horse trough with a baptismal font seriously opens the question (whether Cervantes intended to or not) as to whether what we call a baptismal font isn't a water trough innocent of all the quixotic magic we assign to it.
Over the years, I think, the meaning of ''Don Quixote'' has skewed into the winds of the Enlightenment and sailed brightly under false colors which we have all too willingly wished upon it. This is what brought Nabokov's gaze into such stringency. He wanted the book to be itself alone, to be a fairy tale, to be an imaginative construct independent of the myth ''real life.'' And yet ''Don Quixote'' is precisely a book that plays games with ''real life.'' In its way it is a kind of treatise about how meaning gets into things and lives. It is a book about enchantment, the inappropriateness of enchantment in a disenchanted world and the silliness of enchantment in general. Despite this, it enchants. It became, with much misreading and cooperation on our part, what it mocked.
NABOKOV, astute observer of the American psyche, knew that all 600 Harvardlings and Cliffies in his audience believed in knights, just as they believed in the Old West with its cowboys errant and in the Gothic architecture of Memorial Hall. He wasted no time disabusing them; in fact, cheerfully told them they would hear nothing of Cervantes, his times or his missing left hand (lost at Lepanto) from him. Instead, he insisted that they know what a windmill was, drew them one on a blackboard and instructed them in the names of its parts. He told them why a country gentleman might mistake windmills for giants - they were an innovation in 17th-century Spain, the last country to hear of anything new in all Europe.
Nabokov is very clear, and very funny, about Dulcinea del Toboso. But he does not scatter his students' attention by digressing on Courtly Love, its strange metamorphic history and its curious survival today. If, as he delivered these carefully wrought revisionist lectures, part of his mind was surely over at the University Museum four minutes' walk away, where he spent eight years of the preceding decade as research fellow in entomology studying the anatomy of butterflies, another part must have been on a project concerning Courtly Love, its madnesses and follies, which would mature three years hence as ''Lolita.'' That diminutive of a Spanish name, Dolores, raises our curiosity. ''Lolita'' is too logically a progression of Nabokovian themes (the other as the self, the generative power of delusion, the interplay of sense and obsession) to have been influenced by a close and tedious reading of the ''Quixote.'' And yet there's the picaresque journey as the ''harmonizing intuition'' of the two works. And there's the sprite Lolita. She began as a seductive child in the first appearance of romantic love in the West, boy or girl, Sappho's darlings or Anakreon's striplings. Plato philosophized these hopeless loves into something called the love of Ideal Beauty. The theme became salacious and overbearing in the leaden hands of the Romans, almost melted away in the early Middle Ages, to emerge again in the 10th century as Romance. By Cervantes' time Courtly Love had saturated literature (it still does), and in his satire of it and of its new context, Chivalry, he found it obvious enough to transmute the stock paragon of virtue and beauty into a country girl with big feet and a prominent wart.
''Don Quixote'' had no effect whatsoever on the health of the Romance; it simply invented a robust and parallel tradition that has moved alongside ever since. A Richardson would now have a Fielding. We would keep the ideal beauty, but in the house next door lives Madame Bovary. Scarlett O'Hara and Molly Bloom, spirited Irish women both, have equal claim on our imagination. Even in the old romances, from early on, the virtuous beauty is balanced by a sorceress, Una by Duessa. After ''Don Quixote'' the false beauty began to be interesting in herself, an Eve claiming her old prerogatives as temptress. By the late 17th and 18th centuries she had set up shop in literature and real life. To get at a French king, Michelet observed, you had to wiggle your way through a wall of women. The mistress became a kind of social institution; literature said she was demanding and dangerous but more interesting and gratifying than a wife: a ritual detail of the Romance ''Don Quixote'' supposedly laid by the heels. In the overripe Decadence the mistress became a spicy Lilith, the primeval feminine in a lacy nightie, reeking of doom, damnation and death. Lulu, Benjamin Franklin Wedekind called her. Molly, said Joyce. Circe, said Pound. Odette, said Proust. And out of this chorus Nabokov plucked his Lulu, Lolita, whose real name, Dolores, was more Swinburnian, blending her with her cousins Alice (Nabokov is the translator of ''Alice in Wonderland'' into Russian), Ruskin's Rose and Poe's Annabel Lee. But her Grandmama was Dulcinea del Toboso. And Humbert Humbert's memoirs, we remember, are offered to us by a professor as the ravings of a madman.
SO these lectures are not without their interest to admirers of Nabokov's novels. Both Cervantes and Nabokov recognize that playing can extend beyond childhood, not as its natural transformation into daydreaming (which psychiatrists find so suspicious and discourage) or creativity of all sorts but as play itself. That's what Don Quixote is doing: playing knight errant. Lolita's side of her affair with Humbert Humbert is play (she is surprised that grown-ups are interested in sex, which to her is just another game), and the psychology of Humbert (meant to elude the theories of Freud) may be that he is simply stuck in the playtime of childhood. In any case, whenever a critic considers the picaresque novel, or literary treatments of illusion and identity, he will find himself thinking of Cervantes and Nabokov together.
These lectures on Cervantes were a triumph for Nabokov in that I think he surprised himself in his final opinion of ''Don Quixote.'' He approached his task conscientiously despite thinking of this old wheeze of a classic as a white elephant and something of a fraud. It was the suspicion of fraud that propelled his interest. Then, I think, he saw that the fraud was in the book's reputation and epidemic among its critics. Here was a state of affairs that Nabokov liked to go at bec et ongle. He begins to suspect that Cervantes is unaware of the book's ''disgusting cruelty.'' He begins to like the Don's dry humor, his engaging pedantry. He accepts the ''interesting phenomenon'' that Cervantes created a character greater than the book from which he has wandered - into art, into philosophy, into political symbolism, into the folklore of the literate.
''DON QUIXOTE'' remains a crude old book full of peculiarly Spanish cruelty, pitiless cruelty that baits an old man who plays like a child into his dotage. It was written in an age when dwarfs and the afflicted were laughed at, when pride and haughtiness were more arrogant than ever before or since, when dissenters from official thought were burned alive in city squares to general applause, when mercy and kindness seem to have been banished. Indeed, the first readers of the book laughed heartily at its cruelty. Yet the world soon found other ways of reading it. It gave birth to the modern novel all over Europe. Fielding, Smollett, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Daudet, Flaubert shaped this fable out of Spain to their own ends. A character who started out in his creator's hands as a buffoon has turned out in the course of history to be a saint. And even Nabokov, always quick to detect and expose the cruelty at the core of all sentimentality, lets him have his way. ''We do not laugh at him any longer,'' he concludes. ''His blazon is pity, his banner is beauty. He stands for everything that is gentle, forlorn, pure, unselfish and gallant.''
Guy Davenport, who teaches at the University of Kentucky, is the author of a book of essays, “The Geography of the Imagination” and of “Da Vinci’s Bicycle: Ten Stories”.