"Put You In This Pickle"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Cervantes is fond of the "pickle" figure. In Part I, Book II, chap. IV, Sancho, reporting to his master his conversation with Dulcinea, says: "I told her indeed in what a sad pickle I had left you for her sake." In Book III, chapter IV, it is "a delicate pickle," and in chapter X, Sancho speaks of "a dainty pickle." Our expression is more alliterative, "a pretty pickle." The basis of them all is the brine in which cucumbers are soaked, and named from the Dutch word that gives us "piquant." If we are not "in a pickle," we are "in the soup" or "out of our element." Don Quixote, trying to make a company of merchants from Toledo acknowledge that his lady Dulcinea del Toboso is the world's fairest damsel, is beaten by their servants. A plowman of his village carts him home, where he begs his housekeeper to send for the enchantress Urganda to come and cure his wounds. She refuses, and says:

. . . Come, get you to bed, I beseech you; and, my life for yours, we'll take care to cure you without sending for that same Urganda. A hearty curse, and the curse of curses, I say it again and again a hundred times, light upon those books of chivalry that have put you in this pickle! . . .