Can someone breakdown the meaning of:
The reason for the unreason to which my reason is subjected, so weakens my reason that I have reason to complain of your beauty.
From Don Quixote Ch.1
It's fun wordplay. Switch some of the words and you'll see the meaning:
The cause for the confusion to which my mind is subjected, so weakens my mind that I have cause to complain of your beauty.
My mind is scrambled because of your beauty.
What Cervantes actually wrote in the Quijote was this:
La razón de la sinrazón que a mi razón se hace, de tal manera mi razón enflaquece, que con razón me quejo de la vuestra fermosura. Y también cuando leía: los altos cielos que de vuestra divinidad divinamente con las estrellas se fortifican, y os hacen merecedora del merecimiento que merece la vuestra grandeza.
You can see from the words I’ve set in bold that he was deliberately repeating words derived from the same stems.
In a comment, Cascabel wrote:
This is probably beyond the scope of this site. Part of the problem stems from the translation of razón and sinrazón, and the ways they can be played on in Spanish:
- razón means reason, yes, but con razón means "justly", or rightly.
- sinrazón is not really "inability to think reasonably", but rather acción injusta cometida con abuso de poder according to my Larousse. And in DRAE it is Acción hecha contra justicia y fuera de lo razonable o debido. In other words "an unjust act" or abuse of power.
The translator is trying to retain the sense of the original as much as possible.
Where the long bits in Spanish from the cited dictionary entries given for sinrazón, which was translated into “unreason” in English, are:
La razón de la sinrazón que a mi razón se hace, de tal manera mi razón enflaquece, que con razón me quejo de la vuestra fermosura.
That is the quote in Don Quixote where the author is discussing the many works of romance the hereo (Don Quixot) has been filling his head with before going off on his quest. And he quotes an author called Francisco Silva whom he admires. Notes to the version at the Virtual Cervantes Institute says that the quotation was not literal.
The reason for the madness which assails my reason does weaken it, [and] I have not lost my reason in complaining of your beauty.
One has to take certain liberties with the sentence's structure, as it is purposefully (probably) somewhat odd.
The puns revolve around the word razón which translates to "reason", but in the philosophical sense and mental sense. Sinrazón in this case, literally, "without reason" is a way of saying madness. In Latin languages, to lose one's reason is to go mad. Perder la razón.
Indeed, D. Quixote is quite mad. The passage also says he loved these old books from an earlier age and stayed up all night reading them. He did this so much that he "lost his brain". He actually sold parcels of his land in order to buy these old books.
Whose beauty this is, is not clear. Later on in the book, we learn of his love for Dulcinea, an imaginary woman of great beauty for whom he goes to battle like the knights of old who would do battle in the name of women and honor.
Feudalism and chivalry should not be conflated. There's a good introduction to the subject on Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chivalry.