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I decided to read ths book when I first got my kindle and rediscovered my love of reading. I have spent a lot of time in Spain, so thought this would be an interesting one to start with. The auther Miguel Cervantes was a contempory of Shakespeare, and just as important in the eyes of the Spanish people of today, and this is widely believed to be one of the worlds first ever true novels. On reading the rather lengthy foreward, I was suprised to find the Cervantes wasnt happy with this novel, and continually and unsuccessfully tried to find success with different styles of writing until popular demand, and lack of money, forced him to write the long awaited sequel, which is inlcuded in most modern copies.
The version you will read, unless your language skills are superb, will have been at some time translated form the original Spanish, and there are many versions in many styles, because of course some of the humour, irony and or original meaning can get literally "lost in translation".
The story is of a rather eccentric, Don Quixote, who decides one day to set of in search of adventure. He wishes to find damsels in distress, giants, evil knights, etc, and with his eccentricity slowly turning into a slight madness, in his imagination he does in fact find all these things. We are drawn into each of his adventures as the are drawn both from Don Quixotes point of view but also, by way of contrast, from a factual point of view. The subtle but timeless humour is provided by the relationship between Don Quixote and his selfish, and self-centred, but also loyal and lovable servant Sancho Panza. All is set in a Spain that no longer exists, but is fascinating all the same and beautifully described by Cervantes. No serious reader should miss this book out of their repetoire.
I first heard of this book, 'Don Quixote' by Miguel De Cervantes, when I was sixteen years old. I had seen a snippet of the musical 'Man Of La Mancha' which is based on this novel and it had made me curious about reading the book. I have to admit I wasn't really an experienced reader in those days and went into the bookshop with a note because I couldn't pronounce the title! I had no idea what to expect but I was a bit worried it would be too highbrow for me at that age. When I started reading the novel I was really surprised by how enjoyable it was. I was transfixed throughout and at the end of the novel felt that it was the best thing I'd ever read. I have since read the novel many times and often just pick up my copy and open it at a random place and start reading. Nowadays, if someone asks me what my favourite book is I always say that it is 'Don Quixote' as it's everything that a great book should be.
I have a Penguin Classics paperback version of this book. It's quite a hefty novel as there are two parts. Each section is divided into smaller chapters which vary in length and which punctuate natural progressions in the story. My copy of the book also contains a translator's introduction since the novel was first translated from Spanish for this version in 1950. It's not essential to do so but reading a little about the author as printed at the beginning of the book can help you to appreciate how aspects of this story came to life. Cervantes is certainly a very interesting person with a fascinating history.
'Don Quixote' (pronounced 'don kee-ho-tay) is the most famous of all Spanish novels and one of the most celebrated. An allusion to the novel has even been etched onto Spanish currency. The author wrote this originally with the intention of mocking traditional ballads in addition to creating a parody of heroic knight's tales. So basically the story is one of comedy although to state it's only a comedy is to seriously undersell it.
The story is based around a man who is no longer young and whose place in life seems to be that of living a rather ordinary life with his niece and his housekeeper. This man has an abundance of time and he fills this by reading stories about knight errantry. He reads so much that he becomes obsessed and at the height of this craze he begins to believe that he is in fact a knight himself. He renames himself 'Don Quixote de La Mancha', adopts a female muse to whom he pledges undying love and allegiance, packs his horse and finds himself a squire or companion called Sancho Panza and sets off to make the world a better place.
The entirety of the novel focuses on the adventures Don Quioxote and Panza have together. A lot of the comedy is attached to the character of Panza who is a naïve but loveable fellow. Other humour arises due to the fact that Quixote is so mad that he simply cannot see reality as everyone else sees it. This means he sees lots of grandeur and glory in the most base situations. Other characters seek to exploit the insanity of the eponymous hero and their cheeky tricks never fail to amuse.
The characters of Quixote and Panza are very likeable and their relationship is that of an odd couple. They are completely different people but it feels like they belong together. Most of the dialogue is written to amuse the reader and Panza's long-winded proverbs are some of the best moments. Towards the end of the second book there is a more serious tone where it feels like the author has suddenly tired of writing about his hero and wants to inject a greater sense of reality and tragedy into the story. It is rather like the way that the television series Blackadder ended with a last charge towards the enemy lines. The novel ends rather sadly and by doing so puts a completey different spin on what has gone before.
I love this novel because I identify a lot with Don Quixote. I also see the world quite differently from most other people I know and for that I face adversary, scorn and hardship. How Quixote approaches such obstacles to continue on his path as he visualises it is inspirational and motivational. Sancho Panza may be a droll fool but his proverbs are didactic and thought-provoking. I love learning about the dynamics of their relationship too.
There are a couple of stretches in the novel which are hard to read because historically the contents are so far removed from what I know or understand. Parts of the book are written in ballad or poetry forms which is challenging. Overall though this is certainly a book that any serious reader should attempt. It's an epic novel that stays with you forever.
This is one of the best classic books I have read!
Its a wonderful heart warming story of a disillusioned Spaniard and his loveable companion as they embark on madcap quests.
Its a great comedy and is well translated into English unlike many other classics which can be difficult to read and understand with important parts lost in translation.
The book is quite lengthy but has the benefit of being an addictive read and so when you do eventually come to the end it is with a feeling of sorrow as you leave behind two characters who you will come to love.
The story is very famous and their are references to it throughout modern day literature which is a testament to the power of the author and his ability to tell a good story.
If you purchase this book i would be incredibly surprised if you did not enjoy reading the adventure for yourself. 5 out of 5
* Concerning the famous hidalgo Don Quixote de la Manchas position, character and way of life;
Don Quixote; a chivalrous, brave, strong, reliable, romantic hero. The problem? He also happens to be quite, unutterably mad. Now, being so unsound of mind, our hero allows himself to become so inflamed by the gross amount of chivalry/romance novels he devours that he gets it into his poor little head that it is upon his shoulders to save the old days of knights, adventures and epic romance. Being on the wrong side of fifty and having a bit of a mental, er, instability certainly doesnt hold him back as he sets off from his small village on his first sally and oh my, does he get his adventure all right.
*Concerning the famous narrative and style of Don Quixotes wonderful tale;
Now, theres a reason that Cervantes novel is a modern classic. Film makers have worked their fingers to the bone simply trying to transfer this story from page to screen, and its a tale so popular it is now a major cultural icon for Spain.
Initially started as a short story whilst the author was in prison (how nice), Don Quixote begins with speed and flair. Cervantes abandoned the short story idea several chapters into the novel, though the beginning flows nicely due to the initial premise. This means the reader is thrown into the action relatively early, with only a brief description of Quixotes former lifestyle before hes setting off in search of maidens to save and honour to maintain. This fast paced action means it is very easy indeed to get into the story, and before you know it youre at chapter ten and entirely engrossed.
The narrative itself is a superb blend of humour and scathing judgement. As funny as Cervantes mocking tone may be, there is a more serious edge to his writing, and I tend to believe that a lot of Quixotes adventures are told specifically as a comment upon the state of Spain at the time, i.e. pre-reformation. The symbolic burning of Quixotes books at the hands of the priest is quite clearly a sore point for Cervantes, who, as a fan of art, literature and music would have been scandalised by the countrys harsh policy on the arts, which were repressed to a great extent at the time. However, humour prevails throughout the entire novel, Cervantes omniscient narrative voice constantly providing comical overtones to Quixotes hapless actions, making for at times laugh-out-loud reading.
The narrative flow is also quite interesting in that Cervantes splits it into two layers; one a fictional past recording of the story on the behalf of an Arab author, the other supposedly Cervantes himself, who finds the manuscript, translates it and produces the end product. He quite humorously utilises this fact for some amusing interludes, such as halting the narrative mid sentence at an (in)appropriately exciting moment, claiming to have lost something in the translation. It brings the reader crashing back to earth, meaning Quixotes far fetched mishaps never become too extreme or romantic.
*Concerning the famous Don Quixote de la Mancha and his loyal companion
Cervantes characterisation is quite unusual in itself. Since the novel started with the aim of finishing as a short story, the main characters of Quixote and his sally companion Sancho Panza are hastily introduced without a great deal of development or background at the beginning. Thankfully, though, as the novel progresses, and it indeed has a lot of scope for character development at over 900 pages, the two men become more and more complex and individual, taking on a very realistic edge despite their comedy aspects.
*Concerning the end of hidalgo Don Quixote de la Manchas long and eventful tale;
Here lies my sole quibble with this novel. Having stayed with it for so long and having enjoyed its slow simmering before it reaches its boiling point, you would expect a nice climactic ending to the tale. Unfortunately, this isnt to be, and although I dont want to give too much away, lets just say I was disappointed that Cervantes could so easily abandon such a major plot line to resolve the tale in such a quick manner. Had the climax been more satisfying, this would undoubtedly have been a five star review.
*Concerning the famous impact of hidalgo Don Quixote de la Manchas tale;
At a hefty 900-odd pages, Don Quixote is a long and complex novel. However, plodding through is entirely worth it, as this novel is a hilarious though biting tale that will either have you laughing out loud or crying at the indignity of it all, depending on how soft you are, I suppose. Cervantes writes with skilful humour, though his judgement upon the Spanish government is a prevalent thread that can level the tone of the narrative to provide a very well balanced dramatic story. Don Quixote and Sancho Panzas characters are so amusing and engaging that they may well become the most favoured characters in the history of literature. A modern classic, this novel is the kind of book that appears on lists of Books you must read before you die, and its there for a very good reason; its a damn fine novel that impresses, engages and stupefies. So go read.
The ardent idealism of Cervantes’ celebrated hero has often been interpreted as madness, but is it necessarily less sane than pessimism and a fatalistic acceptance of the evils of society? In setting off on his quest to reintroduce the ideals of chivalry to the world, Don Quixote certainly appears slightly ludicrous. His devotion to his lady Dulcinea, whose imagined perfection is based on the memory of a peasant girl he has only met a couple of times, seems at best funny and at worst downright stupid. The dangers and hardships he encounters on his journey might provoke the response “Is it really worth it?” but it is difficult not to admire Don Quixote for his courage and unwavering conviction that he can change the world. Reading the book in translation does mean that to some extent its humour is reliant on the translator’s chosen way of wording the text, and quotations from it often differ from one source to the next. It is a very amusing read, however, and although there is some affectionate satire directed against the hero himself, much of the story’s comedy centres on events of the plot and the down-to-earth attitude of Sancho Panza. As the knight and his squire set off on their journey it quickly becomes apparent that they are extremely likeable characters. Their affection for their animals, their banter and the contrast between their reactions to events places the reader on their side rather than on the “rational” view that Don Quixote should be forced to stay at home. Written before the form of “the novel” became established, The Adventures of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de La Mancha is better described as a picaresque, or story of a journey. It is a series of isolated adventures rather than one developing plot, and minor characters move in and out around the central focus of the hero. The Adventure of the Windmills is perhaps the best known, pitting Don Quixote as a lone warrior
against what he perceives to be “giants” on the horizon. His behaviour can be interpreted as stupidity, madness, rashness or just a mistake – but his willingness to battle single-handedly against a formidable danger is the most impressive aspect of the episode, and a quality of his character which increasingly comes to the fore as the adventures continue. I have known some people to say that they can’t get on with this book, or that it is heavy going, but I would sincerely recommend it for its humour, originality and dynamic characters. In terms of entertainment value, it is often hilarious and always enjoyable, affectionately portraying the follies of the characters without ultimately condemning their beliefs. By the end of the book, there is no question that the reader’s sympathies lie with Don Quixote in his unquenchable desire to return humanity to a more chivalrous age. How many of us accept the world’s mediocrity and decline to waste energy in making the effort to change it? If the courage, strong principles, chivalry, perseverance and idealism of Don Quixote constitute madness, then ‘twere a good thing did madness become catching.
Cervantes writes a tale of a madman whose madness is inspirational. Don Quixote may have lived in a bizarre dream world, but his own sense of righteousness shines through many times. Sancho Panza even realizes that his master, although mad, is very wise. The windmill-tilting and golden helmit-type sequences gradualy give way to richer and humanne tales where true valor,in it's own way,is shown. Cervantes used his characters to show that although reality seldom fulfills dreams, there is a true human need to dream. I love this book-read it!