Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What Chavez Reads

Simon Romero investigates the Bolivarian Revolution leader's reading list:

Often, as he talks on, Chávez drops the names of books he is reading or has grown to love, giving insight into the various intellectual and literary influences on his thinking and what he calls his Bolivarian Revolution, an amalgam of socialist-inspired and anti-American policies.

Favorite authors include Victor Hugo, with "Les Misérables" at the top of his must-read list, with its description of passion amid revolutionary barricades. At the swearing-in of ministers for nutrition and the people's economy, Chávez recited a passage from the introduction about the need to stamp out ignorance and poverty.

"Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes also features prominently in his speeches, with Chávez identifying with the eccentric knight-errant fighting injustice. To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the book's publication, the government paid for a million copies to be distributed free last year. Venezuela also paid for 70,000 copies in English for Caribbean neighbors and 5,000 in French for Haiti.
Link via Literary Saloon

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6 comments:

Alok said...

Chavez sees himself as a modern day Don Quixote? Interesting! :)

bhupinder singh said...

Hopefully, the identification is on the "fighting injustice" part and not fighting the windmills.

Alok said...

yes that was exactly what I was thinking. It is interesting how those two oppositions are present in the same character and in fact, even in a way, at least some of the time, difficult to separate.

Lotus Reads said...

And while addressing the UN Assembly today wasn't he waving about a book by Noam Chomsky?

bhupinder singh said...

Lotus: ...which is a lot of progress since the days when Khrushchev waved his shoes in a similar speech targeting the US !

bhupinder singh said...

Alok: I think that is what makes Don Quixote so lovable and he continues to reside in the heart and mind of the reader- his intentions to help the needy despite severe costs to himself.

If he seeks personal glory, it is because it is very human to do so. And that is perhaps one of the reasons for the universal appeal of Quixote.