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The Classics > Don Quixote

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message 1: by Reggia (last edited Mar 31, 2009 04:48PM) (new)

Reggia | 2365 comments Don Quixote, considered by many to be the "first modern novel", celebrated its 400th anniversary just a couple of years ago. It was then that I put it on my to-read list but it took many starts and stops before I finally dug in and mined it for all it's worth.

Have you read it? which translation? Any thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

A little excerpt from this review Poets & Writers/Don Quixote at 400:
“Don Quixote was the first modern novel and so gave birth to the genre that has dominated Western literature since the eighteenth century,” says Michael McGaha, a professor of modern languages at Pomona College in Claremont, California. “It is the first novel whose characters grow, develop, and influence each other. It was a highly self-conscious, experimental work; one of its major themes is how literature affects its readers, and, consequently, the writer’s ethical responsibility.”

The plot of Don Quixote goes something like this: An aging man of La Mancha, Alonso Quixano, is ruined by books, by reading too many chivalric romances, and under the weight of bad literature, goes mad. In an effort to heal him, the town’s barber and curate have his library walled off. On finding his books gone, Quixano takes up his true calling: the life of the errant knight. Don Quixote scrapes together a rusting suit of armor, imagines his old horse a magnificent steed, chooses a country woman he does not know to be his great “lady-love,” his Dulcinea. And, of course, turns Sancho, his “man-of-all-work,” into a faithful squire.

message 2: by Rhonda (last edited Mar 07, 2009 02:02PM) (new)

Rhonda (rhondak) I had to read at least parts of it in Spanish in college but I cannot put my hands on the English version I have. Suffice it to say it is an old copy from the 1950's I bought in an used book store that had the wonderful smell I cannot find any longer, not with the self help books and people with their lattes waiting to be noticed and admired.
I liked the book because it had the dust jacket still on it and was well worn. I like the idea of books being passed on and I was glad to become a part of that.
I reread Don Quixote when I studied the Spanish Philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset in graduate school. Studying philosophy in Spanish was very hard for me, mostly because it is so easy to misread or better, overlook the meaning in something expressed. Oretga's "yo soy yo... y mis circunstancias" comes directly from DQ. His book Meditaciones del Quijote or Meditations on the Quixote are seminal works of greatness which should be read by all students of 20th century culture. Of course, one must understand the spirit of the original first, I think.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I remember Mom reading parts of it and just laughing. Thanks for this reminder.

message 4: by Reggia (new)

Reggia | 2365 comments I definitely got some laughs out of it! Sometimes because of a humorous situation and other over the turn of words, usually Sancho's. I wish I owned my own copy, it would've been great to mark up all my favorite lines.

I've only read the Edith Grossman version, and while I can't make a comparison I felt very satisfied with the translation. It must be interesting to tackle a book in two different languages.

"yo soy yo... y mis circumstancias"

I had to look that up: "I am myself and my circumstances." It sounds tragic but very interesting. The further reviews at Amazon have really piqued my curiosity. So glad you mentioned this, Rhonda, I'd really like to read it -- in English! (my Spanish being nearly nil although on my goal list) I'll have to check the used bookstores since my library doesn't have a copy.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

This morning I was thinking of the book I had to read in German and trying to remember the title of it. (was so long ago) It was a German western! LOL!

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