Don Quijote. Roman

by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Paperback, 2000



Call number

IO 3551 D674



Dtv (1997)


Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML: Brimming with romance and adventure, Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote is considered by many to be the greatest work in the Spanish literary canon. Both humane and humorous, the two volume oeuvre centres on the adventures of the self-styled knight errant Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Quixote's credulous and chubby squire. Together the unlikely pair of heroes bumble their way from one bizarre adventure to another fueled in their quests by Quixote's histrionic world view and Sancho's, who in conjunction with Quixote provides the spark for endlessly bizarre discussions in which Quixote's heightened, insane conception of the world is brought crashing to earth by Sancho's common sense..

User reviews

LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
It's not a comic novel, or a romantic tragedy, or a journey into the self, or of course it's all those things, but mostly it's an incredible metanovel, dude. Think about how much thinner this book would be without all the stories people tell in it. Thnk about how many of those stories are false or
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apocryphal or ludicrously confused, the story equivalent of DQ's many many platfalls that somehow never get old, and then think about how the stories drive the action. How the author gamely steps up for his share of blows. How half the book only exists to show up that Tordesillas dude who wrote a fake sequel, and how that's the same as Don going out and adventuring in the first place - literature is the driving force, and Orlando and all of that is real literature too, of course. This book interacts with the real world in maybe the closest and subtlest way ever, and as the characters get oh-so-close to realizing their fictitious, constructed nature, you stop and go OH SHIT. Here I am with my reading, wasting my life away too. Why? And then you go on doing it, a slave to books just like Quixote, and that is insanity too. but what else can you do? You don't have control; you are fictional. Your books are writing you.
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LibraryThing member baswood
Many people have heard of Don Quixote (or Don Quijote in this translation), but to read both volumes of the book takes some reading commitment. It was the next book on my shelf and although not unread; I had read it such a long time ago I had only a vague impression. Reading today a revised
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translation by Diana De Armas Wilson with its introduction by the original translator Burton Raffel was very much in keeping with Miguel de Cervantes claiming that his Don Quijote was a translation from the Arabic historian Cide Hamete Benengeli, which put me in tune with the meta fictional aspects of this book.

It has been labelled as the first novel ever written, (first volume published in 1605), but I can vouch to the fact that this is not true having read novels from the previous century. It's claim to be the first modern novel bears more consideration, as from my reading experience it shines like a beacon of light, a sort of lighthouse beacon which lights the way for character development and interior reflections, authorial interventions, open ended interpretations, and endless discussions on the aims and objectives of the author. The dark side of the lighthouse beacon is its disparagement of the subject matter of the popular fiction of its time, the books of chivalry: knights in armour riding out to do fantastic deeds. These are the very books that caused Don Quijote to go insane. He was of the opinion that all the stories written on chivalry must be historically accurate, because they were printed in books. Why would anyone write about things that were not true, that did not happen. There is a scene very early on in the first volume when Don Quijote has returned exhausted from his first adventure and the priest and the barber go through his library throwing out of the window all the bad books on chivalry that they intend to burn.

The basic premise of the novel is that a rich landowner Don Quijote has become infatuated and addicted to books of chivalry and takes it upon himself to revive the whole idea of knight errantry. Cervantes says:

"Indeed his mind was so tattered and torn that finally, it produced the strangest notion any madman ever conceived, and then considered it not just appropriate but inevitable. As much for the sake of his own greater honour as for his duty to the nation, he decided to turn himself into a knight errant, travelling all over the world with his horse and his weapons, seeking adventures and doing everything that, according to his books, earlier knights had done, righting every manner of wrong, giving himself the opportunity to experience every sort of danger, so that surmounting them all, he would cover himself with eternal fame and glory"

Don Quijote recruits an employee of his Sancho Panza to be his squire and saddles up his old horse Rocinante, puts on some old armour and together they ride out; Sancho Panza on his beloved donkey, looking for adventures. Not only is Don Quijote insane, but he also suffers from hallucinations, seeing wayside inns as castles, windmills as giants, and herds of sheep as a marauding army. He also dreams of an impossibly beautiful woman who will be the love of his life and to whom he will dedicate his conquests: the matchless Dulcinea del Tobolso. Tobolso is a town near where Don Quijote lives and he might have caught sight of a pretty girl there.

There have been many interpretations of Don Quijote. A ribald, knockabout, slapstick comedy; there are certainly many funny incidents along the way that can make the reader laugh out loud. A loveable idealist who follows his heart and an unflappable optimist. A tragic hero figure in the best traditions of a romantic interpretation. Christians might interpret him as a Christ like figure, or that it is a cabalistic Jewish text. Some may think it is an allegory of Spanish politics or an attack on romantic chivalry that Cervantes claims it to be. It is in my opinion primarily a novel about insanity, self delusion and how other people handle, care for, or make fun of people who are insane. Don Quijote's sanity comes and goes, in book two his periods of lucidity increase until he returns home almost cured of his delusions. During his adventures people are often surprised by his educated response to questions, he gives Sancho Panza excellent advice on how to be a governor of a municipality. Don Quijote's insanity leads inevitably to mood swings, he is easily angered and in fact twice tries to kill Sancho Panza.

Many classic works are infused with thoughts and ideas about writing and literature and Don Quijote is no exception to this. The prologue of the book addressed to the idle reader written by Cervantes talks about the difficulties of writing the prologue, reminding readers that he is only the stepfather to the book not its parent. He then tells of a conversation with a friend who tells him shortcuts to write a successful piece of literature. Throughout the actual novel there are pauses where Cervantes reflects on the art of writing.

The two volumes were printed nine years apart and in the second volume the metafictional aspects take another turn. We are told that Don Quijote has become famous, because people have read about his exploits in the first volume. He starts to be recognised and some people take advantage of his fame. He complains however, that there seems to be two Don Quijote's riding around; one who is a bit of an idiot and one who is accomplishing good deeds, one book is poorly written while the other can stand up as a piece of literature. This together with authorial interventions, perhaps by the parent: Cide Hamete Benengali or perhaps the step father Cervantes himself adds further to the innovations that are introduced by the author.

The two volumes together make a superb reading experience. There are Don Quijote's sometimes rather puzzling exploits, there are stories within stories. There are two tremendous characters in the knight himself and his proverb loving squire Sancho Panza, who develop characteristics from each other. The stories are funny, sometimes violent, sometimes contemporary to that period of Spanish rule: the expulsion of the Moors and the jews feature heavily. Of course the reader rides along with Don Quijote sucking up the atmosphere of Spain in the early 17th century wondering about the next adventure that will befall the insane duo and caring about the health of the duo as well as despairing about the damage they cause. The Norton Critical Edition contains an excellent introduction and a beautiful translation. The criticism section however, leaves something to be desired. I know it is difficult to come to a conclusion about the main theme or thrust of this novel, but most of the extracts focus on individual stories. Some attempt at an overall impression would have been welcome. It is a book that one can return to and enjoy individual stories and exploits, with the whole scope of the book firmly in mind. Wonderful and a five star read.
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LibraryThing member theokester
Often called the most influential work of Spanish literature, Don Quixote is another classic novel that I've always meant to read but never made the time. Nearly two decades ago while living in a Spanish speaking country, I picked up a Spanish copy of Don Quixote with the plan to read the book as a
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way to reinforce my language studies. At that time I only made it through about 30 pages. Interestingly, I felt like I had read a sizable portion of the overall book. The copy I had purchased was only about 130 pages so I figured I'd read about one-fourth and promised myself that I'd eventually go back and finish. What I didn't know was that the Spanish copy I had purchased had been very significantly abridged and summarized and was not a true representation of the overall heft of this story. I recently picked up an English copy and found it weighing in at just under 1000 pages of text with another 50 or so pages of end notes and about 20 "roman numeral" pages of introduction prior to the story. I was shocked and at that point decided that I'd do better to tackle the book in English rather than returning to the Spanish knowing that it would take me at least double or triple the effort to read that many pages in Spanish given the slightly antiquated language and abundance of unfamiliar terminology.

So I dove headlong into reading Don Quixote. I found out that the English volume contained two "Parts." Evidently the first part was published by Cervantes in 1605 and the second part was published as a sequel 10 years later in 1615. Apparently about 8 or 9 years after the successful publication of the book, an unidentified author wrote and released an unapproved sequel to the story. This anonymous author directly insulted Cervantes in the text and blatantly modified the character, behavior and motivations of the central characters of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. It's unclear exactly when Cervantes started writing his official sequel but he was definitely spurred on by this derogatory piece of literature defaming his own story. In the official "Part 2" of Don Quixote we have some very over-the-top meta fiction in which all of the characters are familiar with the first official book as well as the spurious unauthorized sequel. There are numerous sequences of dialog between characters where they discuss the unauthorized book and condemn it as slanderous drivel. Don Quixote is especially offended and wants to do all he can to make the world know of the false nature of this second book and the true nature of himself and his adventures.

As is likely the case of most readers approaching Don Quixote, I didn't know a lot of the details of the overall story. Naturally I'd heard about the "tilting at windmills" scene through countless allusions elsewhere. And I've long been a fan of the musical "Man of La Mancha" and so I knew some general story aspects from that as well. Certainly not enough to know the entire 1000 page story but I knew that Don Quixote was a man who read a lot of fantastic literature about knights and chivalry and somehow got it into his head that not only were all the stories real but that he was called by divine right to be one of these knights and to ride into the world righting wrongs and fighting for justice. He has sworn his heart to the lovely Dulcinea, also a figment of his troubled mind…a conglomeration of a real woman he knows and a fantasy maiden he idealizes. He takes his friend and neighbor Sancho Panza as squire and the two of them set out into the world looking like the most pathetic knight and squire you can imagine.

Most of the story in Part One focuses on a wide variety of adventures showcasing just how entrenched Don Quixote is in his own personal fantasy as well as how truly inept he is at being a knight. Still, through a large amount of luck and with a large amount of mocking and derision, he manages to come off victorious in a number of very strange situations. He is convinced that an evil enchanter is working to block his way and thus when things do go wrong for one reason or another or when his eyesight drifts closer to reality than fantasy, Don Quixote is quick to excuse any glimpses of reality as evidence of interference from this vile enchanter. In the meantime, Sancho Panza sees the world clearly but rides along very loyally beside his friend and master in the hope of obtaining some part of the fortune. As the story went on I tried to decide just how far Sancho was drawn into the fantasy of Don Quixote. Sancho could certainly see the world for what it was and he ended up getting some bad scrapes and beatings as a result of his master's behavior. And yet he wandered along through the adventures in the hope of some reward. I think he partly believed Don Quixote's madness as truth but part of him also acknowledged that Don Quixote was likely a little bit crazy. In which case what does that say about why Sancho sticks around? He constantly says it's because he hopes to gain fortune and become governor of an island, but I wonder if there is a part of him who knows Don Quixote is crazy and he sticks around in an effort to help protect him or at least be comfort to him.

As Part One goes on, friends and family from Don Quixote's village come up with a variety of plans to try and bring Don Quixote home and to cure him of his madness. These plans end up just as zany and outrageous as some of Don Quixote's "normal" adventures. In the end, they finally do manage to bring him home for some time so he can rest and heal after many tribulations. But he does eventually sally forth again and thus begins Part Two.

As I mentioned above, Part Two has a lot of meta-fictional elements in that it seems that the larger part of the world has already read Part One and is already very aware of who Don Quixote is and what he is doing. Even though Part One made it rather clear that Don Quixote didn't have all of his wits about him, some of the reading public treat him as a true knight errant and are overjoyed to meet him and hear about his ongoing adventures. More frequently however, the people who have read his story know and understand that he is a little off-kilter and they decide to take advantage of both he and Sancho. They treat them as though they truly are knight and squire and they set up fantastic adventures for them all for the purpose of entertaining onlookers who are in on the joke. Even though the scenes often get outrageously funny there is a tragic sense to them in that the central players in the scene are being grotesquely taken advantage of for the sake of amusement. That concept in itself seems like an interesting commentary on just what constitutes entertainment. It didn't seem quite as tragic to laugh at Don Quixote in part one when his fantasy and imagination got him in trouble. But in part two when he embarks on similar adventures prodded by people who know as much as the reader, it feels a little wrong somehow.

Part Two seems to focus a lot more on developing the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho in terms of a more philosophical ilk rather than the first part which made some various political and social commentary but seemed largely invested in having a rollicking adventure at the expense of a madman. I found that I liked some of the adventures and escapades of Part One more than the second part but overall I found Part Two more thoughtful and interesting. On the whole I felt like they made a wonderful counterpart to one another and should definitely be read together.

Overall I really enjoyed reading Don Quixote even though at times I felt very lost and a little bogged down. There are a lot of political, social and literary references throughout the book, some of which had endnotes for me to reference and others did not. There were many very wordy sections filled with commentary on life and virtue and the nature of everything under the sun. These segments usually worked to break the flow of reading for me and left me a little stuck on that section as I tried to digest what was being said and work it into the overall message. There were many great passages that were absolutely brilliant in terms of observation as well as just great turns-of-phrase.

Having finished the novel, I feel like I have completed a major achievement. And yet at the same time, I feel like I only barely scratched the surface of this book. There was just so much meat to be found in every chapter that I felt very overwhelmed and often just "plodded through" to make sure I was making progress. I would love to one day take a course devoted to studying this novel and dissecting some of the major themes and passages. I have no doubt that this book could fill an entire course or more and still leave plenty left untouched.

To those thinking about reading this book alone, don't be daunted by its length or content. It is definitely something that can be completed. At the same time I would suggest that if you have access to anybody with deeper insight into the text, it would certainly not go amiss to ask them four some suggestions and pointers to help direct your reading. I would have loved some outside insight to help guide me through different passages. For now, the book returns to my bookshelf. The story and characters will run through the back of my mind for years to come and I hope that someday I can take the book off the shelf and dive into deeper study of this remarkable work of art.

4.5 out of 5 stars
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LibraryThing member jwhenderson
The idea of the novel starts here. This is the source of the modern novel for many. While it remains the epitome of story-telling its fame has also led to the coinage of such terms as "quixotic" and others. Influential beyond almost any other single work of fiction, the characters through their
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charm and uniqueness remain indelible in the memory of readers.
Don Quixote is one of those books whose influence is so far-reaching as to be almost ubiquitous, like The Odyssey, or the Bible. And like the Bible or Homer’s epic, it is more often talked about than read. But my conclusion upon reading it is to recommend to all: read it and enjoy the stories.
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
Don Quixote has always intimidated me. The novel is a literary giant, my own windmill to conquer. This year, over the course of a couple months, I finally read it. I was surprised by the gentle nature and sincerity of the famous knight. I’d always thought of him as a bit clownish, but in reality
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he is the most human of men, if that makes sense. He’s deeply flawed and so he’s deeply relatable.

I didn’t realize when I started the book that it consists of two separate volumes published 10 years apart. The first volume includes most of the well-known elements of the story, including Don Quixote’s famous attack on the windmills. In the second volume everyone knows who Don Quixote is because they've read the first volume. It adds an interesting element to the book, because he is now trying to live up to his own legend. He's become a celebrity and his cause and condition have become well known throughout the land.
Alonso Quixano is Don Quixote’s true name. He reads book after book dealing with stories of chivalry throughout the ages. He then becomes convinced that he is in fact a knight errant and he must go on a crusade to help the people who are suffering in Spain.

“It is not the responsibility of knights errant to discover whether the afflicted, the enchained and the oppressed whom they encounter on the road are reduced to these circumstances and suffer this distress for their vices, or for their virtues: the knight's sole responsibility is to succour them as people in need, having eyes only for their sufferings, not for their misdeeds.”

He saddles up his horse, Rocinante, and recruits a local farmer named Sancho Panza to embark on his travels with him. Sancho becomes his faithful squire. The two set off and along the way they “help” those who cross their path. The problem is that Don Quixote is delusional about who actually needs his help. The famous windmill scene comes about because he thinks he is fighting giants. He fights for the honor of a woman who barely knows him, Dulcinea del Toboso. The first volume contains a strange mix of stories. Everyone is able to see the Don’s madness except himself and his proverb-spouting squire. Though this is tragic in some ways, it’s also beautiful. There’s something about having complete faith in another person that gives you strength in your own life.

The first volume is entertaining, but lacks the depth I was expecting. It wasn’t until I got into the second volume that I really fell in love with the book. There’s such a wonderful exploration of motivation, delusion, loyalty, and more. Who is Don Quixote hurting with his quest? Is it wrong to allow him to remain convinced of his knighthood? The second volume also pokes playful fun at the first volume, joking that the author exaggerated stories, etc.

“The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.”

Don Quixote’s naïveté and earnestness about his field of knight errantry make him an easy target. People who want to play tricks on him or friendly jokes or even rob him are easily able to because they know exactly what his weaknesses are. He believes, without a doubt, in the code of knight errantry that he holds himself to. He's also wise about so many things while remaining blind to his own absurdity.

At times he reminded me of Polonius from “Hamlet” spouting off wisdom to anyone who will listen. Sometimes it's good advice, sometimes not but he believes it wholeheartedly. There's a purity in living a life so full of earnestness that you believe in your dreams without faltering and you hold yourself to a higher standard.

BOTTOM LINE: This isn’t a novel I’ll re-read every year or anything, but it was a richly rewarding experience for me. It made me want to believe in some of the magic in life and to not always question the motives of others. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza will be with me for years to come.

"Then the very same thing, said the knight, happens in the comedy and commerce of this world, where one meets with some people playing the parts of emperors, others in the characters of popes, and finally, all the different personages that can be introduced in a comedy; but, when the play is done, that is, when life is at an end, death strips them of the robes that distinguished their stations, and they become all equal in the grave.”

“Time ripens all things. No man is born wise.”
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LibraryThing member flourish_leslie
As you stare at the 940-page mass that is Edith Grossman's translation of Don Quixote, you might wonder if reading this Literary Classic (TM) warrants several weeks of your readerly devotion. The answer depends upon what you value in a text. If you require a story with a set group of characters who
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move in a straight line from plot points A to Z, then you should reconsider spending your hours on the famous "knight errant," for as he wanders into various adventures, so does Cervantes, who rarely allows a chapter to pass without another side story featuring pairs of starcrossed lovers composed unfailingly of beautiful ladies and brave but unfortunate gentlemen. However repetitive, this storytelling device highlights the surprisingly modern metafictive elements of the novel. Although Don Quixote the man lacks the capacity for honest self-examination, the text achieves another superior level of existence via its self-awareness. Beginning with an Aristotelian book burning and proceeding to warp the distinction between fiction and reality, Don Quixote the novel embodies those characteristics that we have so simply reduced to the word 'quixotic'. It is this brilliant trick, over which I suspect Cervantes is still laughing somewhere in the ethereal land of deceased authors, that delighted my twenty-first century palate.
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LibraryThing member Lexicographer
I really liked this. And now I feel smarter. But I have nothing smart to say about it.
LibraryThing member Marse
I've owned this copy of Don Quixote for about 30 years, and have begun reading it on several occasions, but could never get much beyond the first 100 pages. This summer, bed-ridden from an accident, I decided I would finally, finally read it to the end. This time it was the last 100 pages that had
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me bogged down, not because they were boring, but because it felt like this book would never end. I had always assumed (based on "The Man of La Mancha" and other references) that Don Quixote's behavior, though delusional, affects those around him positively by making others see themselves in a better light, i.e. Dulcinea when treated as a lady, begins to behave like a lady. But this is not the case at all. In fact, no one changes their behavior because of Quixote. Except for his squire, Sancho Panza, people treat him even more abysmally than if he had been in his right mind. There is a lot of slapstick humor in this book, but most of the tricks played on him are not really very funny, in fact, they are mostly cruel beatings and tortures. I think the real essence of this book is not in its hero, Don Quixote, but in the displaying of the reality of living in 16th century Spain: the random cruelty, the abuse of power (the duke and duchess), the treatment of prisoners, the Moors, the false politesse of the upper classes. There is also the metaliterary aspect of the novel and its parody of romances of knighthood. I'm glad I read it, but it was not at all what I thought it would be.
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LibraryThing member page520
I loved this book. I possess a great imagination and it was put to use in Don Quixote. I hope I have committed to memory so many of scenes that made me pause and smile. Part II Chapter XLVIII — “Jesus! What am I seeing?” Scene will stay with me forever.
LibraryThing member stillatim
My wife asked me how this was, and I told her it was really, really great and that I really looked forward to reading it and so on. She said "Well, it's a 'classic,' right?" Well, yes. But there are many, many classics that I've read and have no intention of reading again, or that I couldn't pick
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up and read a chapter or two in bed. There are very few classics that make me laugh and cry at the same time.

There are very, very few classics which can stand with both Chaucer and Sterne.

That fun stuff aside, Quixote must also be one of the great litmus tests in literary history. Once you can answer the question "what do you think about the Don?" you can probably also answer the question "what do you think about literature?" Gabriel Josipovici argued that DQ is a disenchantment of *all* idealism, and thus a founding moment in (his understanding of) modernism. You could easily read the book as an attack on any fictional work at all: it misleads you, it lies to you, it turns you into a lunatic.

But if, like me, you're a soft touch, you can equally well say that, although the narrator of DQ is always talking about how the one thing s/he wanted to do in this book is to convince you not to read chivalric romances, because the more 'truth' there is in a book the better, the point of the book is in fact that the narrator is wrong. If s/he wasn't wrong, DQ wouldn't have the cry/laugh effect I noted above. And it turns out that the characters have a much better grasp of the way we use fiction than the narrator does. The Don might be a little bit nuts, but even his craziness is preferable to a world in which telling stories is thought to be 'wrong,' the position he ends up taking just before he dies. We readers might be as mad as Quixote, and as mad as the Duke and Duchess who play such tricks on him (p 956). But as Don Antonio says, "Don't you see, sir, that the benefits of Don Quixote's recovery can't be compared with the pleasure that his antics provide?" (930) Or as Don Quixote has it, "to tell jokes and write wittily is the work of geniuses; the most intelligent characters in a play is the fool, because the actor playing the part of the simpleton must not be one." (507)

Frankly, I'd much rather build or read a good book than explain why all building and reading are for the birds. My pomo professors would be appalled.
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LibraryThing member benuathanasia
This was moderately painful to get through. Never again. This is probably the one text I would have preferred abridged.
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
I read it in translation, so I don't know what a difference that might make. Many parts of this are still hilarious after centuries, some scenes are moving, some magnificent. Talk about iconic? Tilting at windmills, Sancho Panza, Dulcinea del Toboso, a man made mad by reading too many books of
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chivalry... Its second part even pokes fun at itself--17th century metafiction! If it doesn't get the full five stars, it's because it does have stretches I found dull and pointless and meandering. Just felt at times the joke was extended far too long, with one incident after another repeating itself: Quixote goes on a rampage due to his delusions of chivalry. Victim of his outrage beats him up. Rinse. Repeat... But this is one of the earliest novels, at least in the Western tradition, and still one of the greatest and influential in the Western canon--and for good reason.
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LibraryThing member karen.lea
This book can be read and interpreted from so many perspectives, it's almost difficult to categorize. To call it a classic seems accurate, if unimaginative. I found myself torn when it comes to Don Quixote himself, between feeling pity for someone with such a skewed vision of the world, and being
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envious of that self same vision. Freedom of thought isn't a trait as much as it is a skill. As for Pancho, such unquestioned loyalty is enviable. To have such blind faith in someone, that you will always be ok if you remain with them, to fight for a cause, side by side with a friend, is indeed a noble calling, and requires a selflessness few possess. I think "insanity" is an oversimplification, and the only box these two could possibly fit within, are the covers of a book.
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LibraryThing member andreablythe
Wheeeeee! I’m done!

Obsessed with books and stories of chivalry, Don Quixote dons makeshift armor and rides out with his trusty squire Sancho Panza as a knight errant, seeking out adventures and to right wrongs and battle injustice. Unfortunately, he was born into the wrong time, because the
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knights are no more and his fancies evaporate, his giants become windmills, his castles fade into humble roadside inns.

I didn’t expect to laugh out loud as much as I did. While it certainly helps to have read some Arthurian and other chivalric romances in order to fully appreciate some of the tropes Cervantes is satirizing the genre, it’s not required. Don Quixote’s adventures are amusing on their own. There is also considerable amount of body humor (fart and poop jokes), which I didn’t expect and was most amusing. Part I also had some interesting side characters, who meet with Don Quixote and share their own tales of woe, whom he tries to help through chivalry, while these same characters (recognizing he is mad) try to lead him home.

That said, there were plenty of moments where the story dragged, mostly when the characters have some sort of discourse on the nature of books, writing, chivalry, or polite behavior. Sancho’s long speeches thick with proverbs also lead me to start speed reading in order to get through them more quickly.

If you want examples of meta, you can certainly look to Don Quixote in which Cervantes has characters talking about the value of Cervantes’ work on a number of occasions. The second part also comments on itself — a large reason as to why Cervantes ever bothered to write Part II was because writer author took up the slack and attempted to continue the Don Quixote adventures. Part II is infused with references of Don Quixote’s adventures having been written down by two different authors, one who wrote with beautiful nobility and another who was just a hack.

Knowing the Cervantes didn’t really want to write Part II explains a bit as to why it was so tedious. The joy of writing the estimable Don Quixote and the droll Sancho Panza was no longer there, which plays out in how he treats them. Instead of characters hoping to assist him in finding home again, he meets with a litany of characters who have heard of his madness and set about playing tricks on Quixote and Sancho for their own amusement. Some of these tricks are quite cruel and conveyed a feeling of underlying bitterness beneath all the fun, as though Cervantes was punishing these two fellows for being more popular than the works he really wanted to write.

Honestly, the best adventures appear in Part I. You could skip Part II entirely and the story would feel complete enough to enjoy.
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LibraryThing member MrsLee
A nice readable version to get you ready for the original. Illustrations are by Walter Crane. I found this tale of a man pursuing life as he sees it, not as others see it, both touching and funny.
LibraryThing member musecure
I had some mixed feelings about Don Quixote. At times, I was very wrapped up in the story and found it excellent. At other times, I found it too ridiculous or slow paced and would then put the book down for months without any urge to go back to it. Cervantes, nonetheless, has moments of pure genius
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and my overall feeling is positive.
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LibraryThing member chillihead
I'd been putting off reading Don Quixote for a number of years. I knew I should read it, but I guess its length put me off. I'd also been put off by reading poor translations of other non-English classics, and didn't fancy slogging through 900 odd pages of staid and tortured English.

It was only
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after all the rave reviews that Edith Grossman's recent translation received, that I finally decided to give it a go. And let me say, it is well worth the effort. Grossman has translated Cervantes' Spanish into wonderfully flowing English, capturing as much of the original word play as is possible. Where particular phrases
cannot be translated into English whilst retaining their original humour, Grossman provides footnotes explaining the original Spanish meaning.

I never thought a 400 year old book could make me laugh out loud, but this one has on many occaisons. It has to be the funniest thing I've read all year (but I have spent a lot of this year reading Proust, so maybe it doesn't have much competition). Although the adventures the "Knight of the Sorrowful Face" experiences are hilarious, my
particular favourites being "The Adventure of the Galley Slaves" and "The Adventure of the Cave of Montesinos", they can become a bit repetitive. They all follow the same general pattern, Don Quixote mistakes some common thing or event as a chivalric adventure and is subsequently beaten up. You would think that this would make the book boring, as some reviewers on here have said, but the plot really isn't the point of the book.

What really makes the book for me is the wonderful dialogues between Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza. Quixote veers from the coherent discussion of a country gentlemen to the ravings of a madman, whilst Sancho at one moment can be a country bumpkin, the next he is discussing the governship of "insulas" with princes, always relying on his endless supply of mixed metaphors and maxims.

In short, this is one of the best books I've ever read.
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LibraryThing member browner56
Some time ago, I sat through a series of art history lectures offered at our church. The minister giving the talks was the perfect person to discuss Renaissance-era paintings, having received a MFA in addition to a divinity degree. He was also someone I knew well enough to ask what I had always
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feared was a really dumb question: When you go into a museum and see two seemingly comparable paintings displayed side by side, why does one usually get a lot more attention (e.g. written descriptions on the wall, guidebook space) than the other? There can be many reasons, he said, but the simple answer is that the artwork getting all the love is usually the one that came first.

I thought about that observation frequently as I was reading Don Quixote, which is widely hailed in critical circles as the first modern novel. (And, at just shy of 1,000 pages, I had plenty of time to think about a lot of things during the several weeks it took me to finish the book.) I have to confess that I was not even sure what being labeled the first modern novel even meant. However, the more time I spent immersed in the volume, the more sense that designation made. For as much as I enjoyed the inventiveness of the story, I think I enjoyed considering the historical importance of the work and the influence it has had on literature over the subsequent centuries even more.

As I learned, the present-day version of Don Quixote actually consists of two separate novels that Cervantes wrote about ten years apart. Both parts of the book tell the same well-known tale. An aging Spanish gentleman becomes so obsessed with reading novels on chivalry that he goes “mad” and fancies himself a knight errant, whose duty it is to right wrongs wherever he finds them in the world. Pledging his chaste love and obedience to the lady Dulcinea—who, in reality, is a relatively ordinary peasant woman he barely knows—he sets out across the country on several sallies, eventually accompanied by Sancho Panza, a poor local farmer who serves as his squire.

The myriad adventures the two men have tend to take on a similar form: in his delusional state, Don Quixote confuses an ordinary situation as a threat or a challenge that needs to be addressed (e.g., windmills confused for giant villains to be vanquished), which the simple but sensible Sancho tries to talk him out of. When the encounter goes badly for the heroes, Quixote is quick to blame the work of evil enchanters who are out to get him, rather than accept failure or the possibility that he simply misread the circumstances. This basic plot device is repeated over and over again—accompanied by a considerable amount of philosophical discourse between the knight and the squire—much of which is amusing and, occasionally, memorable.

For me, the second half of the novel was considerably more interesting and rewarding than the first. It is also the part of the book where the “modern” label becomes more apparent. Indeed, the author himself (often in the guise of his Arabic alter-ego Cide Hamete Benengeli) becomes a third central character in the story in a very clever way. While on their adventures in this section, Quixote and Panza often meet people who already know them from having read the first half of the book and are only too happy to encourage their delusional behavior. Also, the author has the Don’s character berate another real-life writer who had produced an unauthorized plagiarism of the Quixote saga in the years between the two volumes that Cervantes himself wrote. That is not only modern, it is down-right post-modern!

In summary, Don Quixote is an altogether remarkable and entertaining book that was also, at times, absolutely exhausting to read. I do not imagine that I will ever find the time or the energy to read it again, but I am so happy to have made it all the way through this once. There are some who rank it among the best novels ever written and I cannot argue too strenuously with that position.
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LibraryThing member frecked
This translation by John Rutherford is reading pleasure.
Always humourous if occasionally a little uncomfortable from a modern perspective.
Through the stories and the mad adventures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are glimpsed the history, social conditions and attitudes of the time, something
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missing from my school history lessons (from an English perspective).
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LibraryThing member ZoharLaor
This is by far the translation of Don Quixote I have enjoyed the most.

I do not know if Ms. Grossman's translation does justice to the original Spanish version because I haven't read it but I enjoyed this book tremendously.

I enjoyed that Ms. Grossman tried to capture not only the story, but also the
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prose, rhythm and style of writing of the era even it was long winded and somewhat tedious. Even Cervantes' self deprecating and self glamorizing humor is intact. The foot notes also help the non-Spanish speaker understand more of background to the stories, the prose and inside jokes.

Even though this book was written centuries ago I found it contemporary, charming, hilarious and accessible. I believe that it is a great disservice to Cervantes that Don Quixote is being thought of as a drama only to disregard the story's comedic aspects.

Among the 1,000 pages of the book, Cervantes weaves unrelated background stories of characters which the duo meets on their adventures. I found that to be an advantage in such a long book because I could put the book down for a few weeks, read another book, and come back without missing a beat.

I believe that if you would take away the "classic literature" label from this book, which so many people find terrifying, you'll find a funny story, sometimes sad yet very modern even by today's standards.

If you are not familiar with the story of Don Quixote then here is a very short summary: Alonso Quixano is a retired country gentleman in his fifties who lives in La Mancha with his niece and housekeeper. Quixano has become obsessed with books about knights and chivalry (very popular at the time the story was written) and believes that they are true to their words despite the fact that many of the events are clearly unrealistic. Quixano's friends think that he has lost his mind from too much reading, too little sleep and food depravation.
From here the delusional Quixano sets out in search of adventure and takes on his nom de'guerre "Don Quixote de la Mancha" while announcing his love to a neighbor's daughter (unbeknown to her) renaming her "Dulcinea del Toboso".
What follows are adventure of mishap occasionally occurring because Don Quixote has a habit for sticking his nose in matters which are none of his business, using chivalry as an excuse to pick a fight wherever he can - only to be defeated, injured and humiliated. However to be fair, Sancho Panza receives the brunt of those punishments.
That is the end of part one.
Part two, which was written ten years later, reintroduces us to the now famous Don Quixote and Sancho Panza which are the victims of cruel jokes by rich neighbors. Don Quixote gains back his sanity and proves a capable ruler only to be met, again, with disastrous results.
He dies sane and sad instead of delusionary and happy.

While part one is whimsical, part two seemed to me very melancholy and more philosophical
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LibraryThing member aethercowboy
Be it the last great Romantic novel, or the first great work of modern Western Literature, Don Quixote blurs the line between these two eras, parodying, satirizing, and waxing philosophic all the way.

Don Quixote, arguably the most influential Spanish work of literature, is a tale told in two
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volumes, published a decade apart. Within this work, the ingenious hidalgo, Don Quixote de La Mancha, goes slightly mad after a little too much reading and not enough eating or sleeping (haven't we all been there...), and takes it upon himself to perform great feats of chivalry in the name of his unwary love, Dulcinea.

Joined by his dimwitted sidekick, Sancho Panza, the two embark on quests and adventures, great and small. Quixote's niece wishes to get her uncle back and sane, which she and her accomplices team up to do, all the while thwarting Quixote's attempts at great acts of chivalry.

A great work by any means, albeit a thick one. Recommended for anyone who has had to attack windmills, either figuratively or literally.
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LibraryThing member comfypants
I've read the part one (of two) so far, and it doesn't seem likely that I'll bother with part two. It starts out very promising, with an unexpectedly modern sense of humor. But all the good bits (and all the famous bits) are in the first few hundred pages. Then the book just keeps going for no
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apparent reason, eventually devolving into a collection of novellas and short stories that have no connection to Don Quixote.
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LibraryThing member Ljrei77
If you take this at face value, it is still a rather good novel. The adventures of Quixote and Sancho are quite hilarious to this day. However, looking beyond the antics of the two this story directly adresses the question of "What is the self and how is it defined?". Is Quixote mad or is he
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attempting to create a self that is far better than his current situation? Was he justified in forging his "self"? These are the questions that he novel raises but they can be applied to our lives as well. Were we born who we are or have we crafted it? I highly suggest that if you have not started questioning the identity of your "self" you start by reading this book.
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LibraryThing member endersreads
Cervantes has a bit of Dutch humor in him. I am reminded of Sancho producing ejecta (I mean schijt) next to the Knight of the Rueful Figure in the dark who startled at the smell. Also, when Sancho is governing his "island" he writes Quixote and tells him he would send him something, though the only
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thing the island produces are enema tubes which are "curiously turned and mounted". I found the episode in which Don Quixote and Sancho vomit on each other after having consumed the magical elixir hilarious as well. I digress, I make the book sound perverse. It is far from it.

Looking back on the 2 parts of Don Quixote, I must say that I believe the 1st part to be my favorite. Everyone knows the windmill scene. I am reminded of the windmill scenes in the old black and white Frankenstein movie and the one in Evil Dead. I could philosophize on this single adventure for an eternity. I will never forget Dorotea, Cardenio, Don Fernando, Luscinda, the Curate, Camacho... This book is one of the greatest--containing an occult knowledge of life. This is why men such as Voltaire carried it with them. Read Isaac Disraeli's essay "The Man of One Book" to understand me. This perhaps could be my "One Book". It has not only it's own wealth but also a wealth of past histories and chivalrous works within it.

Take to the mountains and fields with this book, ye goat herders!
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LibraryThing member Ltlmiss
Reading Volume I of Don Quixote has been a bit of a challenge. Not because it's hard to understand, but because there are so many stories within the main story that it bogs it down for me. I kept putting it down for days or weeks at a time, and didn't really look forward to picking it back up. It's
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funny and entertaing, just long. I think I'm going to try to listen to Volume II on audio.
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Original language


Physical description

1166 p.


3423123516 / 9783423123518
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