Don Quixote (Classic) ★★★☆ ½

cfbd49198a00d27f5129a2d637e38a85

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Don Quixote
Series: ——
Author: Miguel de Cervantes
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 1120
Format: Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Don Quixote has a lot of books on knight errantry. He has read them all and in the process gone quite mad, bonkers, round the bound, off the rails, etc, etc. He is crazy.

He is convinced that he is a Knight, that one of his tenants, Sancho Panza is his squire and that the love of his love is Dulcinea Toboso, a village woman who he has never seen, only heard her name. Quixote thus accoutres himself in knightly style and sets out on adventures.

He has many adventures, misadventures, friends and family try to bring him to his senses and in the end he gives up his knightly ways, admits he was crazy and dies in bed.

For more a more indepth look at what actually happens, ie Chapter by Chapter, please check out my various Don Quixote Update Posts.

 

My Thoughts:

There is so much I want to say about this book. So please forgive any erratic jumping around as I potentially go from random thought to random thought.

I can see why this is a Classic. Cervantes writes amusingly, wittily and tells some good stories. The interactions between Quixote and Sancho ring so true as do their interactions with the various people they meet. And therein lies my first, and biggest issue.

The side stories. This book is divided into Part I and Part II. Part I is chock full of characters that Quixote meets telling their own, long, convoluted and pointless stories. In one or two cases, those side stories end up splitting off into yet a third story. A story within a story within a story. It became frustrating to read. Someone who I can’t remember, told me that those side stories represented various forms of writing back in the 1600’s and that Cervantes included them to show that indeed, he was a master writer. It makes sense. However, as much sense as it may make, it does not make for an enjoyable read. When I am reading a book entitled Don Quixote I expect to read about the titular character. Thankfully, in Part II there are very few sidestories and the adventures of Quixote and Sancho proceed apace.

My other main issue was the continued madness and stupidity of both Quixote and Sancho. In part it is amusing, funny and chuckle worthy. But when it crashes over me the reader chapter after chapter after chapter, it becomes tragic, not comedic.

In short, while I am not a fan of abridged classics, I WOULD recommend that Don Quixote first be read that way to get the meat of the story. Then the reader can read an unabridged version to wallow in all the unnecessaryness of it all.

I was reading the Oxford World Classics edition that used the Jarvis translation and was edited and annotated by a E.C. Riley. Riley’s notes were absolutely useless to me as a casual reader. There were many instances where I would have appreciated some context about the culture that would have explained something but nope, nothing. Then there will be Greek Name Alpha and Riley will spend 3 paragraphs going off about the history of said Greek and how Cervantes saw it ONCE in Village X and that is why Greek Name Alpha was included in the story. It felt like the focus of the notes were supposed to be scholarly but came across as pretentious and pointless. It was a frustrating experience and by Part II I just ignored the annotations.

The thing is, this WAS funny. How can you not laugh when Sancho puts some curds into Quixote’s helmet [which is actually a barber’s basin] and Quixote claps the helmet on his head and thinks his brains are leaking out because of the curds? Most of the humor is of that sly kind, poking fun at Quixote, at Sancho, at the people they meet.

I would recommend this book just to see how people thought and acted 400 years ago. But get a different edition than this one, one that will explain some of the cultural things that mean nothing to us now.

I started this book in November 2016 and finished it in July 2017. That is 8 months. I could have read it a lot faster but my note taking necessitated taking it slow. I don’t in any way feel that my time was wasted or that my updates were negated. It was nice to just slowly punt down the river of this book and enjoy the scenery. Of course by page 700 I was over the scenery and ready to exit the boat.

To wrap up. I enjoyed this even while being frustrated at parts but I don’t know that I’ll ever read it again. 2000 and now 2017 just about seems enough.

★★★☆ ½

 

bookstooge

 

  1. Don Quixote (2000 Review)
Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Don Quixote (Classic) ★★★☆ ½

  1. Manuel Antao says:

    Slow is better…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bookcupidity says:

    Yay! You finished! It’s great to see that it was worth it in the end for you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Thanks! I ended up powering through the last 200-300 pages without notes. I needed the end.
      But I really did enjoy my time of note taking as well. I think I’ll try that process with another book next year. Now I just have to decide which one…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Matt Ries says:

    Glad to see you finished Don Quixote. You’re probably remember I was of the same opinion, Part II was better the Part I because of the focus on Quixote and Sancho.

    Sorry to learn your edition wasn’t really helpful when commentary and explanations. My Barnes & Noble Classics edition had footnotes when something was culturally or time period specific to early 17th-century Spain; but mostly the introductory essay put the book(s) into their proper context in the “evolution” of Spanish literary forms/genre.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. phew- this has always seemed heavy going and to be honest it’s always been on my “maybe someday” list- I don’t think it’s gonna get pushed up my tbr any time soon 😉 It’s good that it was enjoyable overall- but yeah, I’m not gonna read this copy. I find it frustrating when the footnotes that are there partly to simplify things for the reader end up complicating them so much more!! Very impressed that you finished!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations for finishing! I’m still about half-way through but I’ve already read it and, as I agree wholeheartedly with your review, am wondering if it’s worth finishing it a second time, especially because I enjoyed the first part much more than the second.

    Do you have another classic planned?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      You enjoyed the first part more? Even with all the side stories?

      I don’t have another classic planned right now, but am thinking of doing a Dickens re-read next year where I just add all of Dickens’ books into my rotation and start re-reading them. Most of them I haven’t read since ’08 or ’09…

      Like

      • I like the first part better because the characters in the second part seemed like completely different characters. I believe there were about 15 years between the two parts, so perhaps it’s not surprising.

        Let me know when you read Great Expectations, Bleak House, Nicolas Nickelby, Oliver Twist, or Our Mutual Friend. I have not read any of these ones yet and have them high on my list. AND I haven’t read Dickens for awhile. Funnily, I believe my favourite so far is Martin Chuzzlewit.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Bookstooge says:

          You haven’t read those yet? Oh man, you are in for such a treat!

          I will definitely let you know when I start my Dicken’s reading. It probably won’t be until mid or late ’18 and even possibly ’19. It will depend on if the books I’ve got in queue now turn out to be good [and so I read all of them] or turn out to be stinkers [and hence dnf them and cut series short].

          Like

  6. Huge applause on completing this, taking notes and keeping the slow pace to fully admire this classic piece. I remember picking this up as my first “serious” venture in literature when I was… 16? I don’t remember part 2 of the book, and I’m not even sure anymore if I really completed the book. I do remember part 1 and how much the protagonists imagination played a huge role in his adventures. It was honestly a fun story and I think I should really re-read it now that I review and read much more critically. I definitely enjoyed your thoughts chapter-by-chapter. Gave me an urge to check out the book with all the silly things that happened. Do you plan on doing this type of post/feature/reading style for another book?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Thanks.

      While I had read this back in ’01 or so, it really was like reading it again for the first time. But with the notes, I’m never reading this again. I’ve had my fill.

      I would like to do this again, but with a proviso. I haven’t chosen what book and it will probably have to wait until next year. Not Dickens, as I’m planning on adding him to my re-read tbr but would like a big classic I can scribble about. If you’ve got ideas, suggest away!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. […] [!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!] pages. Now, 1100 of those pages were Don Quixote and I’d been working on that for 8 months, but still. I was pretty stoked at those […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s