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Thread: Don Quixote

  1. #16
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    Procneus said:

    Thank you, so much, for this. Even though I didn't start the thread, I'm definitely reading it now! The historical background behind these works is fascinating, and I think this post has given me a very productive lens through which to read this book!
    I am very pleased that you found it beneficial. As I continue to read through the Castilian, I shall compare it to the English, and let you know what I find. Also, you might find another book interesting. BEFORE Cervantes came out with Part II of his work, there was a gentleman by the name (or pseudonym, most likely) of Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda who came out with a Part II. This version is often called "El Quijote Falso" in Spanish. No one is certain who this author was. There is no record of his birth, baptism, marriage, death, or anything else. Only the book. But it caused Cervantes such irritation that he came out with his OWN Part II that acknowledged familiarity with the False Quixote, to the point where Don Quixote in Cervantes' work actually does things directly in opposition to what he does in the False Version, and even meets people who supposedly met him in the False Version, and makes them swear that they have never met him before.

    Much as we might find the idea of a False Quixote distasteful by our standards (plagiarism, anyone?), at the time, laws on copyright didn't really exist. And Fernánadez de Avellaneda may have done us all a service. Cervantes had delayed his Part II, and it is possible it might never have been written without the impetus provided by the False Version. I shall pop in and let you know where I am at in my reading, and I look forward to hearing your analysis of things as you read the text in English or other language (I assume that is the case, correct me if I am wrong). Thanks!

  2. #17
    Registered User liam fennell's Avatar
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    I'm a little late here, sorry for bumping this, I just found this forum. The Quixote has always been the greatest of all books for this reader. I first read it aged 17 and never had the slightest trouble with it. I read it then, and still do, in the Putnam translation; the others I've tried all seemed far inferior for whatever reason. It is a modernized version but not too much so. The Knight of the Mournful Countenance registers as the best for me of all the variations on his title, especially.

    I remember, vividly, one of the most exciting moments of my life, when I got hooked on the Quixote once and for all. It was the part early on where the Don battles the Biscayan and there is a narrative break right in the middle of the climatic action! The next chapter starts and Cid Hamete apologizes because this is all the manuscript he has, he doesn't know what happens next... but wait! He finds the rest of it randomly in a bazaar, how fortunate, has it translated and then we get to continue the adventure. Perfect.

    Whenever I am depressed, I can pull out the Quixote and open it at random and instantly a bad day becomes a good day. Even the "preparatory poems" at the very beginning are enough to make me just about die laughing at this point! Ditto the table of contents with the stupendous chapter titles.

    It should be said the first book is uneven and gets bogged down by people telling unrelated stories, one of which is ridiculously long, novella length; any new readers should bear with this. I've had friends give up at this point. Persevere! I think the second book is as perfect as anything ever was.

    A very few things I love and will never cease marveling at:

    - It is a book about books and the effectiveness, and effects, of books!

    - The aforementioned narrative break and the perplexing (at least to me!) but undeniably central though subtle omnipresence of the author/reader surrogate Cide Hamete Benengeli.

    - The book judging scene in the Don's library where his friends weigh and debate the relative merits of his collection before burning (most of) it!

    - How the characters in the second book are often aware of the first book.

    - The Don's reaction to the existence of the aforementioned impossible paradox; if I remember correctly, he wonders aloud whether it is right or wrong to try and correct/deny the embarrassing parts of this first incredibly, disturbingly, accurate historical record of his and Sancho's adventures and ultimately, I think wisely, decides to let the truth speak for itself, painful though it is!

    - How the bachelor Sanson Carasco, soon to become the Knight of the Mirrors, rightly criticizes the first book's needless digressions whilst sort of also defending the author's prerogative in including them as they are pretty good stories, despite being completely unrelated.

    - How in the rest of part II just about everybody the Don and Sancho encounter, including Sanson and all those educated people who've read part I, get sucked into the Don's madness because they think they're above it. All those incredibly cruel people playing pranks on our heroes end up seeming much crazier than the Don and Sancho, no?

    - When he unseats the Knight of the Mirrors and then shortly after braves the adventure of the Lions; both parts are just ridiculously exciting and memorable. This is when the roles start changing, as I see it; here the Don really becomes the legendary knight Don Quixote and not just a crazy person doing funny things and it is immensely, indescribably satisfying.

    - The part late in book II where Sancho gets his governorship and actually makes wise decisions! His judgement on the paradoxical "this statement is false" question posed to him viz. the bridge in particular!

    And so on, until infinity. This book has basically become part of my DNA and improved my life in countless ways. It completely re-wired my brain and I feel bad for anyone who doesn't know its pleasures and profundities!

  3. #18
    Registered User DATo's Avatar
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    One of my favorite books of all time. The humor is a fresh today as it was in the 1600s.

  4. #19
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I agree with JCamilo to the extent that Don Quixote doesn't demand an extensive knowledge of Renaissance history, culture, and politics like Dante's Comedia. My initial experience of the novel mirrors something stated by another member:

    I read it some time ago and was underwhelmed. But I suspect it is a bit like reading Robinson Crusoe or Frankenstein. I am so familiar with the myth that when I read the original text it seems a bit austere.

    Some literary works have a reputation that often is somewhat misleading. The first time I read Don Quixote my feeling was something akin to my response the first time I read Kafka, J.L. Borges, Lawrence Sterne, The Wasteland, and a good number of other works. I came to those literary works with a lot of preconcieved notions. Certainly, everyone has some concept of the term "Kafkaesque"... even those never having read Kafka. But Kafka was quite different from what I expected from what my preconceptions, and as a result I was initially quite underwhelmed... even disappointed. But I was also intrigued enough by something that was there to read these works again... and again... and again... until they have all become favorites of mine.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
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