The Fountain of Don Quijote is a tribute to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, father of all novels, to whom the whole world, but particularly Mexicans, owe a lot.
The teacher Hernán Lara Zavala is a professor of literature, writer, editor, translator and cultural promoter, and, among his qualities, he is an expert in Don Quijote. Sitting in his UNAM chair, he shares his thoughts about the considered Mother of novels and feels joyful with the rescue project that the Fideicomiso Pro Bosque de Chapultepec is planning for the Quijote Fountain.
But, it is not about any Fountain. We are talking about a spot in a beautiful place in the Bosque de Chapultepec with almost a century of history (since 1921), which was initially created as a space to promote reading in a natural environment. For this reason, its symbolic force is enormous, and it is even more so because it alludes to one of the greatest works in world literature.
We talked with Professor Lara Zavala to find out why the rescue of this space is important given the great value of Don Quijote as a key piece of western culture, combined with the need to promote reading in a country like Mexico.
“I consider that it is very important to rescue this fountain for two reasons. First, because in the Chapultepec Forest there is a place dedicated to music, another to chess, and another to sculpture. Reading is missing, it would be ideal to go out into nature and be able to read while breathing clean air. The remodeling of a space like this is a way of promoting the taste and importance of reading in a country that reads little, like Mexico.
Second, Don Quijote is not just any novel, it contains the dialectical couple (Sancho and Don Quijote), the idealism of Don Quijote’s Renaissance spirit, his goodness and interest in saving the world, the romanticism for Dulcinea; a pure and noble love. In addition to, of course, the way it was written, it is considered the mother of all novels. Before Don Quijote, the novel as such did not exist, this work influenced the Spanish novel, the Latin American novel, the American novel, the English novel, the German novel, etc ”.
But Don Quijote’s influence also went much further. In the last century, there have been other characters with a similar spirit. In Zavala’s words, “The idealists, Gandhi or Martin Luther King, for example, had something ‘quixotic’. These men instead of resorting to violence, have resorted to conviction, and in addition, they fought not for them, but for fair social causes. For humanity, for giving to the others more than asking.”
Thus, Don Quijote has a technical value in the sense of innovation that it represented in literature. But also, it has a historical value since it is considered a Renaissance book, and besides, it promotes humanistic values.
For Zavala, the fact that there is a specific place for the promotion of reading in the urban park located in the heart of the country, has significant social repercussions:
“It is very important to promote reading through gestures like the remodeling of a space such as the Quijote Fountain. I always say, the more you read, the more educated you are, the better you behave. ”
Get to know the remodeling project of the Don Quijote Fountain here and help us to rescue it if it resonates with you.