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Don Quixote [Part 1 of 2] by Miguel de…
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Don Quixote [Part 1 of 2]

by Miguel de Cervantes (Author)

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English (6)  Spanish (3)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (11)
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4.34
  mcnabbp | Mar 10, 2013 |
A group read of Don Quijote was proposed in this 75 Books Challenge group, which motivated me to pick up one of my favorite books for another go-round. I read Don Quijote for the first time during my last year in college; I thought that it would be too difficult for me in Spanish, but I was surprised by how readable and accessible it was. I’ve read it three or four times since then, and it was my favorite book to read while in the Peace Corps, because I thought that life in a rural, third world setting was quite relatable to the wanderings of el Caballero de la Triste Figura. People always asked me why I had come to Mongolia, and they struggled to understand when I told them that I had chosen to do so, and that I was more or less happy in my community. Everyone pretty much saw America (or the western world, or even Korea) as the land of opportunity, and most people said that they would love to have the chance to visit my country, or move there to live and earn money for their families. Coming to the steppe of Mongolia by choice seemed incongruous to them, and when I thought about it, their experiences with me were relatable to peoples’ experiences with Don Quijote. He lives in Spain, but his world is so different from that of the people around him: he sees a world of knights, adventures, castles and chivalry, whereas everyone else sees nobles and peasants, everyday life, inns, and the rather rigid social structures of 16th century Spain. I used to like to read Don Quijote and think about my interactions with Mongolians in terms of what I was reading. So much of what I did seemed so strange to my friends and neighbors, and people were always popping in to my ger just to see how I was living in the countryside, and to talk to me about America. This is the first time I’ve read Don Quijote since I came back to the United States. It’s been fun thus far, as always. It's been a secondary read for me, as I've been picking it up when I have extra time or when I feel especially motivated to return to the stories that I’ve become familiar with over the past five years or so.

I'd previously used a fairly basic edition of the book, but this time I bought an annotated Cátedra edition. Also, unlike in Mongolia, I have the internet at my disposal and can research the history behind the story and some of the connections between Don Quijote and other books from its time period. These two changes in my circumstances, along with my recording of reflections and things that I found interesting as I read the first part, contributed to a much deeper reading of the book this time around. The footnotes to my edition constantly related Don Quijote’s speeches and actions to their literary antecedents, with Amadís de Gaula and Orlando Furioso standing out as the most commonly referenced texts. Their influence on the book has piqued my interest, and I’ve been tracking down both books so that I can read them before I read Don Quijote again. I also enjoyed the occasional footnotes where the editor is simply pointing out something particularly remarkable or inspired, as if to say, “look at this, isn’t Cervantes something?” I love the book, and it’s been fun to read it with the added commentary of a scholar who has spent his life studying it. I’m satisfied with my new edition, and I think that I would recommend an annotated edition of this book for anyone who is interested in reading it. The story is a lot of fun and remarkable in itself, but I enjoyed having the extra help in understanding how Don Quijote stands as a sort of synthesis of many different trends and genres in Spanish and European literature.

Now that I’m done with the first part, I’m going to read the first half of Miguel de Unamuno’s Vida de Don Quijote y Sancho. Since I’ve been writing down my thoughts about the book as I read and posting them in the group read thread, I think it’ll be really interesting to read Unamuno’s take on the book. I’ll read the first part, and if I feel like it’s the sort of information that I would enjoy having before reading on, I’ll read the second part before I start the second book of Don Quijote. I think it’s odd that Don Quijote is always thought of as a single book, when it’s really two books, one published ten years after the other. The two parts are really very different, with the success of the first playing heavily on the genesis of the second. I’m excited about reading the second part again, because I’ve enjoyed reading Don Quijote with greater depth and reflection. I tell a lot of people that they should read Don Quijote, because it’s very universal and has had a unique influence on literature. I’ve been reading it this time focusing on the past and the stories and genres that contributed to its creation; but, just the same, it can be read looking forward in time, with an eye to the characters and books that have been created in the centuries since Cervantes’ book. Without Don Quijote, there might not have been books like The Idiot, The Tin Drum or A Confederacy of Dunces (which contain a few of my favorite reincarnations of Don Quijote). Besides, it’s the funniest book I’ve ever read, especially this first part, where slapstick comedy and situational humor come together sublimely with the absurdity of Don Quijote’s character and his bizarre interactions with a wide variety of Spaniards rich and poor. ( )
  msjohns615 | Jul 5, 2010 |
Harold Bloom says that Don Quixote is the greatest novel ever written. He also recommends the Putnam translation, which this is not. Charles W. Eliot, LL.D., the editor of the Harvard Classics, claims that this 1611 Thomas Shelton translation is "in style and vitality, if not in accuracy, acknowledged the most fortunate of English renderings." I'm not sure what that means, but launching into over 500 pages without at least some assurance that you're reading an accurate translation is a bit disconcerting. In all fairness to Thomas Shelton, however, I actually got accustomed to the Elizabethan syntax and vocabulary after a couple hundred pages. When my family occasionally heard me laughing out loud at one of the predicaments of the good Don or Sancho, I had to paraphrase Shelton's verbiage to make them understand why I thought certain passages were so funny.

Dr. Eliot's decision to present only half of Don Quixote also irked me. As he put it, "[t]he second part, issued in 1615, the year before [Cervante's] death, is of the nature of a sequel, and is generally regarded as inferior." Some, such as Professor Bloom, seem to disagree that the second part of Don Quixote is inferior to the first. I guess I'll get a chance to read the Putnam translation after all. ( )
  ninefivepeak | Jan 27, 2010 |
Famous lunatic wanderings of a would-be knight errant and his trusty squire. The gentle humor (graphic knightly assaults notwithstanding) has fared well over the ages. ( )
  bkohl | May 19, 2009 |
For me, it was not so much the famous story line, rather the tangents that the book runs off to in the latter half of the book that makes it a wonderful book. The story is good, but the little short stories that appear with regularity make it a beautiful book.

It took me a bit to accomodate to the written language, it was a bit heavy and lengthy for my taste. Once I did, I loved the book. Mayhaps you will like it too! ( )
  Cygnus555 | Jun 7, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (137 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cervantes, Miguel deAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doré, GustaveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eliot, Charles WilliamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janssen, JacquesDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pol, Barber van deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riquer, Martín deEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Don Quixote was originally published in two parts. This is the first part only.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140448209, Paperback)

'He set spurs to his steed Rocinante, not paying any attention to his squire Sancho Panza, who was shouting that what he was charging were definitely windmills not giants.' The amusing satirical romance of an eccentric knight-errant in La Mancha, central Spain. DON QUIXOTE follows the adventures of Don Quixote and his rustic companion, Sancho Panza.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:41 -0400)

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The adventures of an idealistic country gentleman and his shrewd Squire who set out, like knights of old, to search for adventure and to right wrongs.

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