But I suspected there was somethingto Don Quixote than what my 14 year old impressions were telling me, and I m glad I finally read this book in its entirety Having done so, I ve discovered that Don Quixote is not a bumbling idiot far from it, in fact He is highly intelligent, highly perceptive and observant, and most surprisingly, and in spite of his delusions of being a knight errant, he is actually also highly self aware The combination of these traits makes him one of the most interesting characters in literature, and if it weren t for his fallibility in misinterpreting reality to put it nicely , the brilliance of Don Quixote would be elevated to unapproachable levels.
Putting the characters aside, though, I have to say that the storytelling here is simply superb When reading an English translation, I never know whether credit for this ought to be awarded to the author or to the translator or to both , but nonetheless this is the kind of writing that just pulls a reader along effortlessly Each episodic adventure rolls seamlessly into the next and even while the subject of many of these adventures covers similar ground a maiden who has been dishonored by her man is one such theme, for example it never seems recycled Don Quixote is actually comprised of two volumes written about a decade apart Historically speaking, there was an erroneous book published in between Cervantes s own two works under the pretense of being the real volume two of the tale of Don Quixote, but was attributed to an unidentified author with the pseudonym Avellaneda It is likely that this fake version lit a match under Cervantes, and what I love about this little piece of history is that when Cervantes actually completes his authentic second volume, it is riddled with allusions to Avellaneda s deceptive book, and these allusions become so ingrained in the text that it becomes difficult to separate fact from fiction At one point Don Quixote meets someone who claims to know him, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the claimant has actually met Avellaneda s Don Quixote, and the real Don Quixote is horrified that someone should have the audacity, not just to impersonate him, but to do such a horrible job impersonating him, that he goes to great lengths and yes, we re talking about the character here to prove to anyone and everyone that he is the real Don Quixote He even changes his itinerary to avoid a city that the fake Don Quixote purportedly goes to, just to make it clear that Avellaneda is a lying whore and cannot be trusted Metafictional stuff like that can be pretty entertaining in its own right, but the fact that it was implemented in a book written over four hundred years ago just makes it all themind blowing, or at least it does to me.
All in all, I had a hard time letting go of DQ when I finished this book It turns out I really fell for the guy.
992 Don Quixote Don Quijote de La mancha Don Quijote de la Mancha 1 2 , Miguel de CervantesThe Ingenious Nobleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha, or just Don Quixote, is a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon As a founding work of modern Western literature and one of the earliest canonical novels, it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published 1972 1349 1286 1389 564 9786009104475 1390 1300 9789643741259 1605 1615.
Don Quixote, By Miguel De Cervantes, Is Part Of The Barnes Noble Classics Series, Which Offers Quality Editions At Affordable Prices To The Student And The General Reader, Including New Scholarship, Thoughtful Design, And Pages Of Carefully Crafted Extras Here Are Some Of The Remarkable Features Of Barnes Noble Classics New Introductions Commissioned From Today S Top Writers And Scholars Biographies Of The Authors Chronologies Of Contemporary Historical, Biographical, And Cultural Events Footnotes And Endnotes Selective Discussions Of Imitations, Parodies, Poems, books, Plays, Paintings, Operas, Statuary, And Films Inspired By The Work Comments By Other Famous Authors Study Questions To Challenge The Reader S Viewpoints And Expectations Bibliographies For Further Reading Indices Glossaries, When AppropriateAll Editions Are Beautifully Designed And Are Printed To Superior Specifications Some Include Illustrations Of Historical Interest Barnes Noble Classics Pulls Together A Constellation Of Influences Biographical, Historical, And Literary To Enrich Each Reader S Understanding Of These Enduring Works Widely Acknowledged As The First Modern Novel, Miguel De Cervantes S Don Quixote Features Two Of The Most Famous Characters Ever Created Don Quixote, The Tall, Bewildered, And Half Crazy Knight, And Sancho Panza, His Rotund And Incorrigibly Loyal Squire The Comic And Unforgettable Dynamic Between These Two Legendary Figures Has Served As The Blueprint For Countless Novels Written Since Cervantes S Time An Immediate Success When First Published In , Don Quixote Tells The Story Of A Middle Aged Spanish Gentleman Who, Obsessed With The Chivalrous Ideals Found In Romantic books, Decides To Take Up His Lance And Sword To Defend The Helpless And Destroy The Wicked Seated Upon His Lean Nag Of A Horse, And Accompanied By The Pragmatic Sancho Panza, Don Quixote Rides The Roads Of Spain Seeking Glory And Grand Adventure Along The Way The Duo Meet A Dazzling Assortment Of Characters Whose Diverse Beliefs And Perspectives Reveal How Reality And Imagination Are Frequently Indistinguishable Profound, Powerful, And Hilarious, Don Quixote Continues To Capture The Imaginations Of Audiences All Over The World Features Illustrations By Gustave DoreCarole Slade Specializes In Late Medieval And Early Modern European LiteratureHer Publications Include St Teresa Of Avila Author Of A Heroic Life And Approaches To Teaching Dante S Divine Comedy She Teaches Comparative Literature At Columbia University A book of parallels, Don Quixote by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, through two of the most emblematic characters ever conceived, discusses what s imagined and what s seen, the ideal vs the real, the conflicts between illusion and actuality and how these solid lines start to blur by the influences Don Quixote and Sancho Panza inflict on each other through the course of this comic yet sad sometimes tale.
A second hand account translated from Arab historian Cide Hamete Benengeli that s how our narrator describes it , the book tells the story of Alonso Quixano, a country gentleman around fifty years of age, retired, who lives with his niece and a housekeeper in a village of La Mancha A big chivalry tales enthusiast, he spends most of his time reading books Amad s de Gaula, Orlando Furioso and Tirant lo Blanch, among others about knights and their unending courage and dangerous quests His excessive reading is reading ever too much takes a toll on his mind orhis brains got so dry that he lost his wits Wishing to seek for adventures and enforce peace and justice, he renames himself Don Quixote, designates Dulcinea del Toboso as the lady of his heartfor a knight errant without love was like a tree without leaves or fruit, or a body without a soul, puts on an old armor that had belonged to his great grandfather, gets on his horse now called Rocinante and, early in the morning, starts his enterprise as knight errant After some muddles, Don Quixote ends up being severely beaten and is returned to his home by a peasant who recognizes him That is the end of his first sally.
At this point, you can t help but ask yourself what really goes on inside of Don Quixote s head Could he simply be deemed as crazy In every aspect but his love for chivalry, it s noticeable how he s witty and sharp and this becomes clearer as the story goes on Putting aside the crazy card for a minute, it s impossible not to wonder if and why he s possibly trying to escape reality Has he been unhappy or unsatisfied with his life He often talks about how one day a book will be written about him, telling all of his great deeds Does he feel he s lacking accomplishments in life and therefore embarks on his imbroglio These are just a few of the superficial questions this apparently simple book raises.
After a short period of unconsciousness during which his friends burn most of his books of chivalry in a funny yet unsettling scene where the parish curate judge one by one if they re appropriate or not , our clumsy hero decides that he needs an esquire and convinces his neighbor Sancho of joining him on his quests, by promising him governorship of an nsula Here, we witness the birth of literary s best relationship between a protagonist and his sidekick.
Sancho Panza, described as a farm laborer, honest man but with very little wit in his pate, leaves his wife and children to serve as Quixote s esquire Big bellied, a mouthful of proverbs and the ever faithful companion, Sancho follows his master and obeys his wishes, but not without speaking his mind until he is forbidden to, since Quixote can t take his blabbering any much to our amusement though, the knight lifts his ban Matching Don Quixote s supposed insanity is Sancho s so called stupidity Sure, he s uneducated and illiterate, but could he be called stupid or dumb He realizes very early that his master is delusional as far as his chivalry ways go and is often baffled by his actions but still, never leaves his side is that because of friendship and his unwavering loyalty One of the most striking aspects of the novel is its language written in a playful and light tone, almost evoking innocence, Cervantes was able to make his readers go through moments containing some evil doings and violence without feeling any disgust some punches and kicks were rather funny and amusing And how was one supposed to witness Sancho s unfortunate encounter with the blanketers without any giggles Even being an one thousand pages book, it never feels tiring to read it its episodic format, constituted mainly of short chapters, keeps you going on just for oneBefore you realize it, you re three hundred pages deep already Contrary to popular belief that sequels are never as good as the original, a second volume of Don Quixote appeared in 1615 first volume came out in 1605 nowadays it s mostly published as single work and is just as good and has often been regarded by critics as better than the first installment for its greater character development and philosophical insights Written by Cervantes partially as a response to an unauthorized continuation of the novel, this infamous part 2 is actually one of the matters discussed by Cervantes on his own sequel, as Don Quixote and Sancho find out through someone who recognizes their names that there s a book written about them After hearing some of the book s contents, they dismiss it as being full of lies and injuries This was one of Cervantes innovations where characters were aware that they were being written about Don Quixote ranks really high on best books ever written lists most of the time, it stands proudly at number one Based on the number of adaptations alone dozens of films, operas and ballets , books that were influenced by it Madame Bovary by Flaubert The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Sterne and The Idiot by Dostoyevsky, to name just a few , comics, cartoons and even a painting by Picasso and a sculpture by Dal , it becomes quite clear that it isn t without reason that Don Quixote had an enormous artistic impact in the world and is considered to be one of the best works of fiction ever written.
Rating simply put, Don Quixote is an undeniable masterpiece that s both amusing and thought provoking that never let me down 5 stars.
Can I tell you a story only it may take a little time because sometimes a thousand trifles have to be recounted, as irrelevant as they are necessary, for the true understanding of a tale.
Chapter I Regarding what befell the narrator on visiting a theatreThe comic operetta Don Quixote was being performed at my local theatre and I was amongst the audience at the first performance It was a lively and entertaining re enactment featuring the knight errant Don Quixote and his erring squire Sancho Panza, and many of their adventures were recounted As I sat in the theatre watching the performance I found myselfanddrawn towards the happenings on the stage I continually shifted in my seat, and half rose from it many times I kept wanting to intervene, to give Don Quixote a fine new coat of armour, for example, and to exchange the old shaving bowl he wore on his head for the real Helmet of Mambrino which, as an avid reader with a large library, I knew exactly where to find I wanted to give his horse Rocinante a really good feed so that he would have some flesh on his poor bones though I also knew that his and his master s bony condition had saved them already from being eaten by a hungry lion I wanted to give Sancho Panza an even larger role in the story, with longer speeches,proverbs, and greater opportunity to influence events I wanted to go backstage and meet with the producer and perhaps get a glimpse of the man who wrote the libretto But most of all I wanted Don Quixote to finally meet the Lady Dulcinea Chapter II In which the diverting adventure of a puppet master is recounted, along with other things that are really worthwhile.
The operetta had reached the scene where Don Quixote is sitting in an inn along with other customers watching a traveling puppeteer s production of the tale of a beautiful princess held captive in a castle In the course of the puppet show, the puppet princess escapes from the castle and is pursued by her captors Before anyone realised what he intended, Don Quixote sprang from his seat intent on rescuing the princess He swung his sword at the hoard of cardboard figures, reducing them, and the entire puppet theatre to smithereens within minutes Pandemonium ensued Don Quixote s reckless actions were just the example I needed Though it wasn t easy to move fast in my long opera gown, I ran towards the steps at the side of the stage, heedless of the whisperings and murmurings of the people I d disturbed on the way Before anyone knew what I intended, I had joined the actors on the stage where the puppet master was loudly bewailing the destruction of his puppet theatre Don Quixote was dreamily contemplating the havoc he had created when he glanced up and noticed me standing near him The Knight of the Sorrowful Face never looked so happy The Lady Dulcinea at last, freed from her enchantment, he said, dropping to one knee and covering my hands with kisses Everyone was stupefied If that s the Lady Dulcurea , muttered Sancho Panza, looking me up and down, I ll eat my packsaddleCurb your tongue, you jester and longtime nuisance, responded Don Quixote, does it seem right to dishonour and insult a duenna as venerable and worthy of respect as she Consider and reflect on your words before they leave your mouth I wasn t terribly pleased to be described as a duenna but I didn t have time to debate the point because at that moment, the producer emerged from the wings and began to propel me from the stage The Lady Dulcinea will appear at the proper time, dear Don Quixote, he whispered consolingly, and those words you ve just uttered about the duenna belong in a later scene This is the scene with the puppet theatre in the inn Let s not get ahead of ourselves Then he signalled to the puppet master to carry on with his speech and pushed me into the wings though I struggled a bit I d quite enjoyed being addressed as the Lady Dulcinea, duenna or no duenna.
Chapter III Which continues the tale of The Reader who was Recklessly Meddlesome What do you think you re doing interfering in my production in such a ridiculous fashion the producer hissed into my ear, pushing me down a corridor and closing the door to the stage It s all so entrancing I just couldn t stay in my seat, I insisted excitedly And I want to help Don Quixote, and Sancho Panza too, I want to arrange things better for them What would you do for Sancho Panza he asked, standing with his back to the stage door and stroking his pointed beard thoughtfully I d give him a lotspeeches, I said eagerly, seeing that he d calmed down a bit Speeches that would show him to be cleverer than he appears at the moment because I m certain he is really very clever And what would you do for Don Quixote I would give him success in a tournament, and I d like to think he might sometime meet the Lady Dulcinea, even if only briefly He didn t answer immediately, just continued to stroke his beard thoughtfully It seemed that he might be considering my request Can I examine your spectacles, he asked suddenly, holding out his hand.
I was so surprised that I handed over my glasses immediately Tortoiseshell, I see, he said, tapping the frames with his index finger, I ve only ever seen it used for peinetas Can I borrow these spectacles Absolutely not, I cried, I can t see a thing without them and I ll miss the rest of the play I m missing enough as it is Hmm, if you won t lend the spectacles, perhaps you d lend your person he said with the trace of a smile After the interval there s a short scene involving a duenna called Do a Rodr guez who wears spectacles, and since you want so much to be involved, you could take her place She only appears once, and only has a couple of lines to deliver But you must remove that ring, he said, pointing to a ring I wore on my left hand.
I was thrilled to be given a chance to take part and agreed immediately, especially when the director said he might tweak some of the later scenes to allow Sancho Panzo to have a greater role, just as I had requested He went off to consult with Cide Hamete, the librettist, while a costume person brought me a long and elaborate headdress to wear, complete with a peineta The whole thing resembled a nun s veil I donned it unwillingly What can t be cured must be endured, after all, and the habit does not make the nun Chapter IV Which deals wth matters related to this history and no otherImmediately after the interval comes the scene where Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are being welcomed to the castle of a wealthy duke All the duennas in the service of the duchess stand in line to greet them This was my big scene Each duenna is supposed to be accompanied by a daughter so I also had a daughter whose job was to hold the end of my long headdress As I stood with all the others, the two heroes passed so close to me I could have reached out and touched their sleeves Just as they were about to enter the castle, Sancho stopped as if he d forgotten something, and then he turned to me and said,Se ora Gonzalez, or whatever your grace s name may be.
Do a Rodriguez de Grijalba is my name,I responded, settling into my role,How can I help you, brotherI was ready to oblige him in whatever way I could until I heard what he wanted I was to go outside the castle gate and find his donkey and take him to the stable, because the donkey apparently didn t like to be left alone under any circumstances I didn t think this was at all the kind of duty a duenna was supposed to undertake, and so I told Sancho in a slightly raised voice Then we traded a few insults in which the word old was mentioned The duchess and Don Quixote overheard and the Don castigated Sancho severely see his lines above while the duchess explained that though I was wearing spectacles and a wimple, I was in fact still quite young I was mollified and Sancho went on his way, muttering something about the need for duennas to showgenerosity towards donkeys.
Chapter V Which recounts the second adventure of the Duenna, also called Do a Rodriguez I watched the next few scenes from the wings It seemed to me that the Duke and Duchess were organizing some very elaborate entertainments at the expense of the two heroes, entertainments in which a fair amount of trickery and deceit was involved TheI watched, the less I liked it, especially when Don Quixote was clawed by a bunch of angry cats he thought were demons He was recovering in his bed from this attack when I decided to creep into his chamber during the night and warn him about what the Duke and Duchess were up to To get his attention, I had to pretend there was a damsel in distress who needed his help, so I told him that my daughter had been forsaken by her lover and would he please challenge the lover to a duel That was exactly the right way to get him onside and he began to pay attention to the rest of what I had to say I had just begun to explain about all the trickery that was going on in the castle when some figures dressed in black appeared and began to spank me unmercifully Ouch, I cried, help, help , but to no avail see update status page 772 because Don Quixote was also being attacked, and since Sancho Panza was far away, he couldn t comfort either of us with his soothing proverbs And so ended my unfortunate and embarrassing mid night t te t te with the noble knight Chapter VI Regarding matters that concern and pertain to this adventureBack stage, everybody was complaining about my foolishness and audacity in meddling in the plot and generally making a spectacle of myself The director said he regretted letting me play the part of the duenna I was forbidden to step on stage again, andor less thrown out of the theatre But I didn t want to leave without speaking further with Don Quixote, and even with Sancho, who d suddenly begun to deliver some of the best speeches of the entire opera, filled with juicy proverbs like pears in a wicker basket I reckoned I might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb, and how would an omelette get made if we didn t break a few eggs, so I hid behind a windmill prop in the wings and waited my chance As the Don and his squire were taking leave of the Duke, I stepped onstage once again and had the most interesting of my encounters with Don Quixote and the wise squire Sancho When we had finished conversing, I withdrew to a seat at the back of the theatre to watch the rest of the operetta, completely satisfied that my interventions had been useful and were achieving some effect Postscript Which recounts what will be seen by whoever reads it and other matters which will be understood if the reader reads with attentionSo now you ve heard the story of how Do a Rodriguez, who was only supposed to have one scene in the opera, ended up having three, and of how this crazy reader, who recklessly entered the story, brought this mischief about If you don t believe any of this could have happened, read Chapter LVI of Don Quixote, Regarding the extraordinary and unprecedentedly successful battle that Don Quixote of La Mancha had with the footman Tosilos in defense of the daughter of the duenna Do a Rodriguez.
And when you ve read that, read Chapter LXIX Concerning the strangest and most remarkable event to befall Don Quixote in the entire course of his history which features not just one spectacle wearing duenna but four My tortoiseshell glasses had started a craze.
When the performance was finally over, I left the theatre, pleased that my recklessness had lead to such a satisfying outcome, but thoughtful too about some of the things that had happened Why had Don Quixote addressed me as the Lady Dulcinea Why had the director asked me to remove my ring I took it from my pocket and examined it It s an old ring, in fact it s been in my family for a long, long time I had picked it to wear to the theatre because it has a heraldic design, showing a gyron or triangular shape inside a coat of arms.
What all that signifies however, I cannot quite grasp for the moment, but I m hoping some attentive reader will soon tell me.
This book wore my ss out It s funny and good and I love tomes but I don t think I was totally ready this time Whew The narrator was great on audio but I couldn t keep up in my book for reasons so I just listened Happy Reading Mel done quixote pun quixote fun quixote none quixoteand that s not entirely true there are some rollicking good times in here, but the first part is so much endlessly episodic violence, and while the second half becomes calmer andfocused, it never got my imagination engaged nor my blood flowing.
in fact, although i know he really does love it, i can t help but feel that brian s recommending this to me is similar to the duke and duchess having their fun with don q i feel like brian is pulling a prank on me that he does not want me to meet my reading goal and is laughingly crowing, no, karen, you will not read 150 books this year i am preventing you i will show you despite the amount of time i was stalled on this one, i will come right back in the game.
but this, i did not love this and a lot of it is just context i can appreciate it as an artifact and as a foundation for western literature, but it suffers from the fate of any work that was not edited professionally tastes change over time just in the same way that marilyn monroe would have probably had to drop fifteen pounds to rock our modern day underfed runway ideal, so this book could lose a similar amount of text stop frothing, bri, seriously if this turned up in some slush pile somewhere, there would be allll kinds of criticism, and it might even get passed around the office lgm a few times to the giggles of the editorial assistants this guy can t even keep the supporting character s wife s name straight , this is inconsistent , this is repetitive what is this interlude that has nothing to do with anything else doing in here this is flat out stolen from another source an editor would go to town on this puppy.
but we have the luxury of reading this 500 years after it was written and marveling at how fresh and modern it still sounds and part of it is very modern but grossman s frequent cervantes probably meant here or this is the wrong reference would not play in a modern novel if jonathan safran foer had done this, there would be a crown of pretentious classics majors drawling, i can t believe he said perseus when he meant theseus guffaw guffaw.
but 500 years down the road, we can afford to beforgiving vanity press authors take heart and i am aware i am being nitpicky, i amjust interested in pointing out how a lot of people who love this book would be very indignant to read something produced today that had so many obvious flaws but i do admire longevity.
i just couldn t get into it, overall there are a lot of great moments here the burning of the books nooo , the puppet show, don q in a cage, and great non action sequences in the discussions of the value of drama as a medium and the difficulty of translation and many other minor occurrences.
the first half is just episode after episode of this delusional thug with some kind of roid rage, meth aggression attacking people and innocent lions, unprovoked, and his sidekick who is a grasping fiend who would sell you out for even the promise of a sandwich and it all reads like marx brothers slapsticky stuff i mean, how do you break someone s nose with a loaf of bread with the second half, it is better and becomesself reflexive and much sadder, but a lot of it still remains tedious the second half, written ten years after the first part, frequently references the unauthorized sequel to don q that some guy wrote and pissed cervantes off it is like a mean girl passing notes to the cool kids, did you hear what he said that s my man he s messing with etc etc.
and i am not a lazy reader, even though my tastes tend toward a faster pace than this, but i have read plenty of slow paced, dense prose that didn t make me take out my mental red pen and slash away at what i felt was extraneous or repetitious.
i can appreciate the message about art and its impact and its potential and its place in the world, but i did not have fun reading this book.
and i make no apologies and for jasmine who doesn t think there is anything complicated or pretentious in the spanish language this qualifies, i think it gets all meta in the second act for its time, it was seriously mind bending stuff.
come to my blog Whatever else Don Quixote may be, I never found it boring Parts of it were very funny, others had wonderful similarities with Shakespeare, some bits wereserious it s like a mini library in a single volume Wonderful Overall, it has quite a Shakespearean feelin the plotting and tales within tales eg The Man Who was Recklessly Curious, stolen by Mozart for Cosi fan Tutte than the language In fact, the story of Cardenio is thought to be the basis for Shakespeare s lost play of the same name HumourVery funny slapstick, toilet andsubtle humour, with lots of factual historical and chivalric detail as well, but it doesn t feel especially Spanish to me Certainly long, but I don t understand why, supposedly, so few people manage to finish it Some of DQ s delusions hurt only himself tilting at windmills , but others lead to suffering for his squire Sancho Panza tossed in a blanket or reluctant beneficiaries of his salvation the beaten servant, beaten evenonce DQ departs and bemuse people mistaking inns for castles, sheep for enemy armies and ordinary women as princesses and are used to justify theft the golden helmet bowl and non payment to inn keepers His resolute optimism in the face of severe pain and disaster is extraordinary Meanwhile, Sancho wavers between credulity wishfully thinking the promise of an island for him to rule will come true and pragmatism Two PartsPart II starts with Cervantes response to the unknown writer of an unofficial sequel to part 1, though DQ, Sancho and others also critique it in early chapters The following story presumes that part 1 is true, and shows how DQ s resulting fame affects his subsequent adventures A very modern mix of fact and fiction Some characters doubt his exploits, others pander to them, especially the duke and duchess who go to great lengths to treat him in knightly chivalric manner, and provide new adventures for their amusement, at the painful expense of DQ and Sancho Sancho gets ratherscope for lengthy meanderings of jumbled and largely irrelevant proverbs Less slapstick andpontificating than part I both DQ s advice to Sancho on how to govern his promised insula and when Sancho has intriguing disputes to resolve.
A Third, courtesy of Borges Borges wrote the short story Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote published in The Garden of Forking Paths Menard is an imaginary writer, described as if he s real, who did not want to compose another Quixote but the Quixote by combining the don and Sancho into a single character and by, in some sense, becoming Cervantes.
What Don Q Means to Me This section was added after an epiphany, which prompted me to make my reviewspersonal I was wary of this book for many years I feared it was too heavy in ounces and themes plot language, but only the former is true, and that can be obviated by a comfy chair or an ebook.
I plucked up the courage to read it shortly after joining GR, partly through encouragement from others It was a revelation, both in terms of the power of GR friends to enrich my life and my own confidence as a reader My enjoyment was heightened by reading it whilst my son and his friend who was staying both aged 10 repeatedly watched and quoted Monty Python s Holy Grail very appropriate
Don Quixote , I answered, and looked into almost shocked facial expressions, followed by quiet, uncomfortable giggling What was the question If my friends at the coffee table had asked What is your favourite book, Lisa , and received that answer, they would have nodded knowingly, sympathetically, adding some random fact about the 1000 page classic I claimed to lovethan the countless other books I have read But that was not the question It was With which literary character do you identify most I was not the first one around the table to answer, and there had been plenty of identification with the brave, the strong, the pretty, the good, the clever heroes and heroines of the literary universe before it was my turn I had time to think, and to think carefully There is no one like Don Quixote to make me feel the connection between my reading self and my real life Who else loved books to the extent that he was willing to immerse himself completely in the illusion of his beloved fiction, against all reason Who else struggled to survive and keep the spirit of beautiful ideas in the face of ugly, mean, bullying reality Why was there such awkwardness when I said I identified with Don Quixote Because he is clumsy, he is bullied by the brutal ordinary people who can t stand a mind focused on literary thoughts and idealist ideas, he is treated badly and made fun of He is so very UNCOOL He makes a silly figure in the ordinary society where appearance and participation in shared activities areimportant to social survival and reputation than reflective thinking and expression of individuality He is off the main track, and that is only acceptable to the world if you are a strong, fighting, violent hero, not if you are a harmless, yet ridiculous dreamer If you can t be one of the group, you have to be stronger,violent than the majority Just being different is the most dangerous, the most hated thing in the world Still But I don t think there was much choice for Don Quixote He had seen the raging madness of the world, and made a decision When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies Perhaps to be too practical is madness To surrender dreams this may be madness Too much sanity may be madness and maddest of all to see life as it is, and not as it should be In the most famous scene of all, the dialogue between Sancho Pansa and Don Quixote reveals the deliberate choice to seein life than just the mere practicalities of food provision and business What giants Asked Sancho Pansa The ones you can see over there, answered his master, with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long Now look, your grace, said Sancho, what you see over there aren t giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone Obviously, replied Don Quixote, you don t know much about adventures If you only have one life to live, why choose the boredom of reality when your mind can create an imaginary adventure of giant proportions What a wonderful match they are, the idealist dreamer and his realist companion, complementing each other perfectly while exploring the real world in the same way Dante and Virgil complement and support each other s thoughts while they explore the fantastic fiction of Afterlife in the Divine Comedy.
To me there isheroism in seeing a perfect horse in the lame Rosinante, or a beautiful woman in the ugly, mean Dulcinea, than there could ever be in the strongest superhero riding the most powerful horse and gaining the love of the most stunning lady That is a no brainer, while it requires deeper thinking skills to see the adventure and beauty in average, weak, ugly life.
The moment Don Quixote turns ridiculous, and sad and quixotic in my world, is the moment before death when he renounces his ideal in favour of the mainstream understanding of Christian comme il faut , breaking Sancho Pansa s heart, who, in his own, realist and practical way, understands the world s need for characters like Don Quixote.
The sanity Don Quixote gains when he dictates his last testament is the capitulation of the tired, worn out spirit He has already stopped living Another of my favourite windmill fighting characters, Jean Barois, foresaw the weakness of old age and wrote his testament to the world at the height of his intellectual power, thus haunting the bigot winners of his dying body afterwards with his words of idealistic power from the other side of the grave And for all those who smile at Don Quixote it is much braver, and harder, to fight inanimate, mechanised windmills than fire spitting dragons And you have to havethan an ounce of Don Quixote in you to try to review this book of superlatives I first finished Part I of Don Quixote fifty years ago, and, although I never got around to reading Part II, over the years I managed to convince myself that I had I suspect this may be true of many other readers as well, for when people share their favorite parts of the story, they invariably mention the battles with windmills and wine skins, the inn courtyard vigil and the blanket toss, but hardly ever bring up Don Quixote s vision in the dark cavern, the manipulations of the Duke and Duchess, the wise decisions of Governor Sancho, or his master s fateful final battle with The Knight of the White Moon Yet it is here, in the second part, that the world of Quixote inspiring in its romance, sharp in its realism, magnificent in its variety becomes surprisingly post modernist and uniquely profound From the first, Quixote is complex and subtle It is never a crude contrast between a crack brained pretender to knighthood and his slow witted squire Quixote is only crazy on the subject of knight errantry, and Sancho, although na ve and illiterate, is a shrewd man filled with proverbial wisdom albeit often inaptly applied In spite of misfortune, they are never mere comedians slipping on the banana peel of existence every slapstick trouncing they receive offers them yet another opportunity for reflection often while literally on their backs, smarting from their recent wounds , and it is these discussions, filled with plausible arguments and vast logical gaps, that generate much of the rich humor of the book Like Didi and Gogo, they are existential clowns, striving to understand a baffling world at least as foolish as themselves.
Reckless passion and a kind of rough chivalry pervade the novel s world of folly The shepherds and goatherds may eat their simple meals around a crude campfire, yet they understand and admire pastoral poetry and the noble act of pining away for love Each wandering wayfarer in the Quixote landscape seem eager to relate some lengthy tale of Romantic obsession and adventure All this makes our Knight of the Woeful Countenance seemlike a variation than an exception, his devotion to exemplary deeds and his Dulcinea not so much a social aberration as a dedication to one bizarre strain of a still flourishing tradition.
It is in the second part, however, that Quixote succeeds in surprising the reader Cervantes published this sequel almost ten years later, spurred to do so by his outrage at the printing of an unauthorized continuation by an Aragonese called Avellanada In Cervantes sequel, the knight and his squire soon learn that almost everyone they encounter on the road is familiar with their history, having read not only Cervantes but Avellanada as well Not surprisingly, the Don and Sancho condemn Avellanada as spurious nonsense These readers, upon encountering our heroes, freely share with them their own interpretations of the pair s adventures, and some of them notably the Duke and Duchess actively participate in the narrative by constructing elaborate pranks, the basis of evenmarvelous deeds to come These two things cause a contradictory movement in our characters consciousness they become at onceself reflective anddeeply committed to their fantasies By the novel s end, these reflections on the nature of the self and the nature of narrative have caused Sancho to become wiser and allowed the old Don to face his death clear eyed, without his chivalric illusions Something happens here which is almost astonishing in Quixote we can sense the novel not only this particular novel, but the novel considered as a form becoming aware of itself Cervantes casual foray into meta fiction which may have started with his human impulse to ridicule the Aragonese thief who hijacked his narrative becomes an endless quest for an Eldorado rich and strange The novel seems to mature and become self reflective, newly aware of how consciousness constructs narrative, how narrative may in turn alter consciousness, and how such alterations may further refine the nature of narrative itself The vast treasures of the quest now lie before us the works of Fielding, Sterne, Dostoevsky, Proust, Joyce, Nabokov, and many others Yes, what happens here is astonishing in Quixote we overhear the soul of Western fiction at the moment it begins to talk to itself.