Interview with Emre Gurgen, author of Don Quixote Explained

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Inside the Book:

Don Quixote Explained

Title: Don Quixote Explained
Author: Emre Gurgen
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Genre: Literary Criticism
Format: Ebook/Paperback

  Don Quixote Explained focuses on seven topics: how Sancho Panza refines into a good governor through a series of jokes that turn earnest; how Cervantes satirizes religious extremism in Don Quixote by taking aim at the Holy Roman Catholic Church; how Don Quixote and Sancho Panza check-and-balance one another’s excesses by having opposite identities; how Cervantes refines Spanish farm girls by transforming Aldonza Lorenzo into Dulcinea; how outlaws like Roque Guinart and Gines Pasamonte can avoid criminality and why; how Cervantes establishes inter-religional harmony by having a Christian translator, on the one hand, and a Muslim narrator, on the other; and lastly, how Cervantes replaces a medieval view of love and marriage―where a woman is a housekeeper, lust-satisfier, and child begetter―with a modern view of equalitarian marriage typified by a joining of desires and a merger of personalities.

"AN ERUDITE EXAMINATION OF THE THEMES AND IDEAS IN DON QUIXOTE. I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THE WRITING AND EXPOSITION OF THIS WELL-REASONED CRITIQUE. BUY IT AND STUDY IT. GERALD J. DAVIS, AUTHOR OF DON QUIXOTE, THE NEW TRANSLATION BY GERALD J. DAVIS" WWW.DON-QUIXOTE-EXPLAINED.COM

Question1- Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
My book is a scholarly academic work called Don Quixote Explained that theorizes on timeless universal themes that human beings have dealt with in the past, are dealing with at present and will deal with in the future.  Specifically, Don Quixote Explained focuses on eight topics that is important to you for eight reasons:  
·         If you want to learn about politics and how to be a leader, please read and study my essay on how an intelligent commoner named Sancho Panza leads a town called Barataria to prosperity.  From delivering objective legal opinions to budgeting state finances effectively to rejecting bribery and corruption while in office to carrying himself like a refined statesmen, this essay expresses how to manage yourself and others well, which is what leadership, any kind of leadership, is all about.  If, in a word, you want to gain and retain political power just like Sancho Panza doesso  you can manage yourself, and others, wellplease read my essay on politics, since it outlines the process of self-mastery.  For a fuller description please read a summary of my 1st essay on politics at www.don-quixote-explained.com under the book proposal tab. 

·         If you are living in a community that diminishes your freedom in the name of religion my essay on how an extreme brand of faith, like Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition, can moderate, so that the principles of a free society flourish, may help you conceptualize this topic. The synopsis of my essay on religious extremism and the opening of a free society can be found at www.don-quixote-explained.com, under the book proposal tab.

·         If you want to live morally yet practically, simultaneously, and flourish in the world pragmatically, my essay synergizing ethical behavior with concrete action can be read at www.don-quixote-explained.com under the book proposal tab. 

·         If you are a woman who wants to flourish in life you should read my essay about how an intelligent and virtuous lady named Aldonza Lorenzo transforms herself into an elegant princess named Dulcinea Del Toboso by improving her moral character.  Again, a summary of this essay can be found at www.don-quixote-explained.com, under book proposal > synopsis > essay 4. 

·         If you are a criminal, are thinking of being a criminal, or want to understand the criminal mind better, my essay on how criminals can lay down their guns, reform their souls, and become law abiding citizens (like Juan Palomeque, a former crook in Don Quixote does) may convince you to alter your lifestyle before it is too late.  A synopsis of this essay is readable at www.don-quixote-explained.com

·         If you are an open minded religionist who believes that people of other faiths who believe in other Gods are also moral, please read a summary of my essay on How Christians and Muslims can unite by dialoguing constructively and intermarrying harmoniously.  It can be found at www.don-quixote-explained.com

·         If you are a man, or a woman, looking for true love yet you feel trapped by the tradition of arranged marriages in your community, please read my essay on how people can replace a medieval view of love and arranged marriages, where women are housekeepers, lust-satisfiers, and child begetters, with a modern view of equalitarian marriages typified by a joining of desires and a merger of personalities.  My essay explaining why marrying for love usually works while marrying by arrangement usually does not can be read for free, on my personal author website, at www.don-quixote-explained.com under the more > true love tab. 

·         If you value living in a free society, or want to learn what one is, please read my essay titled “The Generation of the Renaissance in Don Quixote:  How the Spirit of Classicism, Chivalry and Christianity Bypassed Medievalism and Led to Modernity.”  This essay, if you read it, explains how a country, like Cervantes’s Spain, replaces medieval attitudes with modern concepts so that enlightenment ideals, like those of the modern Renaissance, flourish.  Again, a description of it can be found on my personal author website at www.don-quixote-explained.com, under the synopsis section of the book proposal tab. 
Question 2- What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?
Writing about universal themes, in the context of Don Quixote, that connect to people’s lives, was extremely difficult, since most people have never heard of Don Quixote.  Or, if they have, think it is a stupid book about a crazy knight they were forced to read in high school.  Overcoming this view, by showing people how the book connects to their concerns about life and living, was the greatest challenge of my life. 
In other words, getting people, other than academics, to read my book, instead of dismissing it as an irrelevant waste of their time, required that I write a series of unique essays connecting significant topics to people’s everyday lives.  This is why I write about topics like love and marriage; crime and criminal reform; politics and social mobility; religious unity versus religious extremism; what a free society looks like; and more, in the context of Don Quixote
Specifically, I speak to general readers (or at least try to) by showing them that romantic love is vital to their lives. That they should only marry because of it.  This is why I crystallize the debate between marrying by arrangement and social maintenance versus marrying for romantic love and long-term happiness, in my first essay. 
Secondly, I address general readers by writing about crime and criminal reform in society, as seen through Don Quixote, since every nation has crooks it imprisons, executes, or rehabilitates.  By analyzing the criminal mind, at length, in detail, I try to show my readers:  how criminals think; what the consequence of criminal actions are; and why, in a word, they should not become criminals.  Then, I talk about the process of criminal reform.  How criminals can overcome themselves to become good men.  This was hard to do, especially in the context of Don Quixote. 
Another topic I connect to people’s lives relates to religious unity.  By writing about how Christians and Muslims living together can cooperate with one another instead of harming each other, I highlight how these two faiths are based on similar principles.  Accordingly, I write about religious unity in Don Quixote by explaining: how a Christian man and a Muslim woman marry because they fall in love; how the book’s Christian translator distrusts and denigrates the novel’s Muslim narrator, at first, but, ends-up admiring him, later on, for his good sense.  Writing about these, and other, religious topics, in the context of Don Quixote, to show my religious readers how to respect others of a different faith, who believe in and worship a different God, was very challenging. 
Besides these topics, I focus on different subjects that I thought would interest main stream readers like:  how an intelligent commoner can gain political power; how the principles of a free society can transform a culture; or how religious extremism, of any ilk, can be avoided in a country. Writing about all these issues, in the context of Don Quixote, was extremely difficult.  It took a lot of imagination.   But, I did it.  And, I am happy because of it. 
Question 3 - Do you plan subsequent books?
At present, I am developing a third Don Quixote Explained book, Don Quixote Explained:  A Travelogue, which documents my journey in Spain connected to Don Quixote.  This travel narrative, will be the last book in the Don Quixote Explained series. 
Besides this book, I plan to write a book on Jane Austen, that analyzes what constitutes successful and failed marriages, across her novels.  The base of this book will stem from my undergraduate thesis on her books, especially Pride and Prejudice.
To earn my doctorate, I want to write a dissertation on Ayn Rand’s book, The Fountainhead, which, I hope, will be publishes as a book of essays. 
Besides completing these essay books of literary criticism, eventually, I plan to write a work of creative fiction, on the theme of clean energy, with the hero protagonist developing a new form of energy based on an engine that can harness, and convert, static electricity in the air, to flowing, motive, power.  My novel’s villains will be entrenched oil, coal, and fossil fuel producers, who try to squash this new invention, along with its producer, by trying to bribe, intimidate, and threaten my hero, to give up his pursuit of revolutionizing the energy industry.    
Question 4 - When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing as a wee lad, at the tender age of 9.  What prompted me to write in the first place was my love of stories and storytelling, and my fascination with clear, crisp, dynamic writing that expressed information to my readers, in the most effective manner possible. 
Question 5 - What is your greatest strength as an author?
My greatest strength as an author is my perseverance, in the face of rejection, my tenacity, in the face of hopelessness, and my ability to see my writing projects through to completion, so that they are successful in the marketplace. 
At first, I was a weak writer, with poor grammar, worse syntax, and deeply flawed critical thinking skills.  For me, good writing, was a mystery.  Since, I lacked a broad mental dictionary, my sentences were awkward and clumsy.  My grammar and syntax was poor.  I could not sustain a piece of writing for longer than 10 pages.  Because I was a poor writer, I did not particularly like to write. 
Then, one day, this changed.  Fortunately, I found a book called The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand, which elicited a total emotional response.  Though it was clear enough for me to like, it was still difficult for me to fully understand. 
To elucidate what AR was saying, I underlined, and looked-up, words from her books. Then, I made post-it lists of these words that I stuck everywhere:  in my bathroom, on my refrigerator, in my car, etc., so that I could integrate these words, (i.e. these concepts) in my mind. I even wrote words on my arms, so that I could memorize them, when I was eating. Of course, my parents, and many of my friends thought I was crazy.  But I did not care.  This is how I learned many words.  Because of this intense study, one of my greatest strengths as an author is word choice (i.e. using correct words in their proper context).   
To use my newly acquired words effectively, I had to learn how to write in the first place.  What the principles of good writing were. So I read many books on writing all kinds of documents from letters to e-mails to newspaper articles to books. To instill the principles of clear writing, as exemplified in AR’s books, I practiced writing, all kinds of writing, even though my attempts at creative fiction were god awful.  Over time, however, I did improve, somewhat.  Now, I am a decent writer because of it.   
Question 6 - Did writing this book teach you anything?
Writing my book taught me:
·         That writing consistently, everyday, for a few hours, over a reasonable time-period, produces better writing than cramming ideas into marathon writing sessions. 

·         That good writing shuttles back-and-forth between abstract theory and practical examples, so readers are not lost by a flood of floating abstractions, without specific references, or baffled by a torrent concretes, without a unifying theme. 

·         That clear writing about a topic, any topic, requires that I first understand that topic, before setting pen to paper, (i.e. before actually, writing about it). That, to gain this understanding, first I have to read widely about the topic to understand what other people think.  Then I have to brainstorm, think, and plan.  That, in sum, understanding and writing, just like writing and editing, are separate processes that should not be mixed together.    

·         That good writing requires a lot of rewriting since ideas are rarely perfect the first time out, from the very beginning, from the get-go.  Rather, good writing, to me, needs to be worked, then reworked, then worked again, over a reasonable period of time, to be logical.  To make sense. 

·         That contiguous writing should have a logically connected flow of ideas, where each sentence links to the sentence that came before it just as each paragraph connects to the paragraph that preceded it. 

·         That gaining and sustaining my audience’s attention, instead of boring my readers by rambling on, required me to delete paragraphs, erase sentences, eliminate words, and remove redundancies.  That, in a word, copy editing is a ruthless process that requires the callous removal of duplicative, or unnecessary, information, no matter how much an author is attached to it.

·         That to keep my readers’ attention I need to vary the length and type of my sentences and paragraphs, since readers will only read a document, if their attention is stimulated in different ways. 

·         That understanding goes down as sentence length goes up, since long sentences, with too many units of thought (too many abstract concepts) overloads a reader’s brain, with an overwhelming flood of data that cannot possibly be retained. 

·         That to hook my readers, I have to write effective introductions from the start to motivate my audience to read more, read further, and read deeper.  That, in a word, I have to start fast, and maintain that speed, throughout my essays, otherwise my readers will stop reading. 

·         That writing a document and editing a document are two different tasks, not to be fused together.  If they are, writer’s block, occurs, especially since if free-writing (the act of getting ideas onto paper) is separated from craft-editing (the act of refining prose) creative writing flows easier. 


·         That to avoid becoming too close to my work I need to take a break, once in a while, so that I can detect errors again.  To gain this objective distance, then, I need to set aside my work for a while.  Forget about it entirely.  Then read it a few weeks later from a fresh perspective, from a different angle, so I can make connections, and correct flaws, that were masked previously.  
Meet the Author:
Emre Gurgen, the author of Don Quixote Explained: The Story of an Unconventional Hero, has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Pennsylvania State University. Currently, he lives in Germantown, Maryland, where he is writing a follow-up Don Quixote essay collection and study guide.

Tour Schedule

Tuesday, June 28 - Interviewed at PUYB Virtual Book Club
Wednesday, June 29 - Interviewed at  at I'm Shelf-ish
Thursday, June 30 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure
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Monday, July 4 - Interviewed at The Review From Here
Tuesday, July 5 - Guest blogging at My Bookish Pleasure
Wednesday, July 6 - Guest blogging at Voodoo Princess
Thursday, July 7 - Guest blogging at The Literary Nook
Friday, July 8 - Guest blogging at All Inclusive Retort
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Monday, July 11 - Guest blogging at A Title Wave
Tuesday, July 12 - Interviewed at The Writer's Life
Friday, July 15 - Guest blogging at As the Page Turns
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Monday, July 18 - Guest blogging at A Taste of My Mind
Tuesday, July 19 -  Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight
Wednesday, July 20 - Guest blogging at Harmonious Publicity
Thursday, July 21 - Interviewed  at Bent Over Bookwords
Friday, July 22 - Guest blogging at The Dark Phantom
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