Wine and Music: “Chanson à boire” by Ravel

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“Don Quichotte à Dulcinée” is a song cycle by Maurice Ravel based on the story of Don Quixote.

One of the three songs is the “Chanson à boire”, which refers to “l’amour et le vin vieux”… Ah, what could be more enjoyable?

There are apparently over 40 references to wine in Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote, most – if not all – of which would have been made on the hot plains of La Mancha, which to this day remains a source of simple and inexpensive wines.

I had to endure the 800+-pages of this book-shaped object as an English and European Literature undergraduate at Warwick University all too many years ago. I suppose that I should be grateful to have been forced to read it (and other horrors like The Faerie Queene and anything written by female poets before the 18th century) in the knowledge that it was very unlikely that I would ever reread it.

It hadn’t come to mind again until I read John Carey’s The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life (2014), in which Professor Carey expresses distaste for Cervantes’ depiction of mental illness. I agree: Don Quixote is big but it’s not clever.

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