10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quintessential Masterpiece of European Literature
I have read this book both in English and Spanish, and I can honestly say that it loses very little of its power, wit or message in translation. For all those who have considered reading this book, here are a few good reasons: this book is a very nuanced look at escapism and identity, a wonderful parody of knight stories, along with being a rousing (and very funny)...
Published on Nov. 2 2003 by Adam Dukovich
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lot to get through, but a lovely point
The character of Don Quixote has decided that he will become a knight errant, leaving his life behind and sallying forth to advance the values of chivalry in the world. He takes the working-class (sorry for the anachronism) Sancho Panza with him as his squire. Much to the chagrin of those close to him, Don Quixote believes that he is indeed a knight, and the reality of...
Published on Feb. 13 2004 by Stacey M Jones
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quintessential Masterpiece of European Literature,
I have read this book both in English and Spanish, and I can honestly say that it loses very little of its power, wit or message in translation. For all those who have considered reading this book, here are a few good reasons: this book is a very nuanced look at escapism and identity, a wonderful parody of knight stories, along with being a rousing (and very funny) adventure centering around the titular hero, a man who reads one too many books about knighthood and chivalry and decides to become a knight-errant himself. After recruiting a sidekick and choosing a lady to woo per narrative convention, he sets out to conquer the forces of evil, which include, among other things, giant windmills and rogue "knights". Cervantes' insight and ability to parody were both ahead of his time, and in a time where escapism and voyeurism are well and thriving, it is not difficult to imagine someone watching too many TV shows and believing they're a wild west outlaw or what-have-you. A very fascinating experience, and it works well in any language. Highly recommended.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeous book,
First of all, I absolutely love this book. It was about a year between the time I bought it and actually got around to reading it, as it's near-1,000 pages of 400 year old writing can seem daunting at first. But, as has been said before, this book is as 'timeless' as they come. It seems alot of the reviewers are missing a major point, however, which I would like to delve into. Perhaps (them missing this point) comes from them reading it as a 'comedy' or reading merely sections of it for a class. But taking this book in as a whole, one cannot help but be moved pretty profoundly.
I mean, yeah, this book is funny as hell!!! I laughed SO hard when Don Quixote and Sancho are at the Inn for the first time, and Don Quixote makes his elixer. And it didn't set so well with either him or Sancho, and almost killed poor Sancho. If you've read it, you know what I'm talking about:)
But the beauty of this book lies in the fact that Don Quixote is living a complete lie. And he seems to know that at times... most of the time, no, but every once in a while it seems like he kind of knows. But it isn't important. What's important is that he KNOWS that he MUST be a knight, that it is the only way for him to live. Screw the world. He'll save damsels in distress (or not) and damn the torpedoes. And believing with all your soul in something that no one else thinks exists, thats something I think one can relate to alot. And another beautiful touch: alot of the people he meets along the way at first are all like 'Your CRAZY man' but they ALL get swept up in it eventually. It's almost like secretly everyone wants to believe.
Truely an amazing book, and one that will find you at page 100, looking ahead to the next 900 pages and instead of thinking 'Bummer! Lots to go' you'll just grin a hungry grin.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A matter of taste,
This is a wonderful translation. I first read Quixote seriously in the Putnam, and was completely swept away by it - the prose was just as readable as it is here, and Putnam communicated a love for the text in his notes (as well as a hatred for the translators that had butchered it before) that was a nice accompaniment to the actual story.
Grossman's language is smoother, and I suppose Putnam's prose does have the dust of fifty odd years on it - but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I don't mind if an old book reads a bit like an old book: slightly dated English gives a book a certain flavor. I like Putnam for the same reason I enjoy Maude's translations of Tolstoy. Grossman does write a better sentence, I think, and she certainly doesn't make the book any more colloquial than Cervantes did - although I was annoyed at her constantly having Sancho say Wassup.
Putnam's Quixote, incidentally, is filled with notes: more notes than most people who aren't scholars will want. Every one of Sancho's proverbs is explained (and those aren't exactly the comic high point of the book, either) and he constantly takes potshots at Motteux and other translations, a la Nabokov when he translated A Hero of Our Time. They're sort of funny, but eventually you want him to get out of the way of Quixote, which is what one actually wants to read - not the translator's thoughts.
But then again: a note can easily be skipped, and it's nice to have the extensive information that Putnam packs in, about the historical situation in Spain, potential variant readings of a passage, all the brouhaha about the fake second half of Don Quixote that actually ends up having a part in the book - and lots of other stuff.
Still, a good translation of a book that can be read a hundred times in a hundred different ways is always worthwhile. Don Quixote truly never stops being funny or sad (especially when you know which parts can be skipped the second and third time around) - people who expect a dreary classic will be surprised to find an author that is as relevant today as he ever was.
(Kidding about the Wassup.)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book,
I'm sure many of you have already read this great piece of literature. Edith Grossman has a new translation which transcends all other translations. The book was written in 1605. It is the story of Don Quixote who after reading tales about Knights-in-shining-armor decides to become a Knight Errant, and sets out to rescue damsels in distress. His peasant neighbor becomes his squire and records all that happens. Most of his adventures are so hilarious that I found myself bursting out laughing quite often. There was a poll taken once that questioned literary authorities as to what was the best book (secular) they thought ever written and this book came out on top. You can't stop laughing at Don Quixote's mishaps as he goes about rescuing maidens that he presumes to be in distress.
It's great fiction as well as great reading. Was the fore-runner of the modern novel.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hail Knight of the Sorrowful Face!,
Edith Grossman's newest translation of Miguel de Cervantes's "Don Quixote" is fabulous. As someone who grew up watching various incarnations of "The Man of La Mancha", I felt it was time to read the source material. But I was always afraid that the language (old timey as well as Spanish) would be a major hinderance to my enjoyment of the text. Grossman presents the adventures of Knight-Errant Don Quixote and his able (if slightly dimwitted) squire, Sancho Panza, with a fresh, contemporary voice. As I read the novel, I was pleasantly surprised at how accessible the language was. I got the feeling I was reading and enjoying the novel the same way one of Cervante's contemporaries would have.
The novel is funny, sad and violent, sometimes all three at the same time. I highly recommend this latest translation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book that Contains a Bit of Everything,
DON QUIXOTE is my all time favorite book, but, as much as I love it, I really didn't like reading those huge, pages-long paragraphs. In a book more than 1000 pages in length, those paragraphs eventually got to be quite unwieldy. Edith Grossman has, in my opinion, given us a wonderful translation of DON QUIXOTE and she has broken up the long paragraphs into more manageable chunks. And, like Pevear and Volokhonsky do for the Russian classics, Edith Grossman has made DON QUIXOTE sound even more Spanish, even more seventeenth century, than older, more awkward translations. Anyone who thinks they are going to find a "modern" Don Quixote in the pages of this translation couldn't be more wrong. Don Quixote, The Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance, is still very seventeenth century, but there is also a timeless quality to this book, much like ANNA KARENINA, that I think should appeal to almost everyone.
Don Quixote was, I think, the very first "Everyman." He's charming and chivalric; he's sorrowful and melancholy; he's romantic and good; he's comic and long-suffering. He's a man who only wants to see a better world and a better self...and love his Dulcinea, of course. I think every character Shakespeare (who, coincidentally, died on the same day in 1616 as did Cervantes) or Dickens (and many other authors) ever created has a little of Don Quixote in him and I think this is a huge part of the book's timeless quality.
Although it's the extraordinarily rich characterizations that make this book the classic it is, I also love the sense of place and the stylistic devices employed. Could DON QUIXOTE take place anywhere but in Spain? I don't think so. This book is so "Spanish" that even if one were to read it and not be told the exact locale, seventeenth century Spain would simply leap from the pages. At least it did for me. I felt transported back to a very different time. A time that, in some ways, was gentler and more charming, and a time that in many other ways, was exceedingly cruel.
Many people, when referring to DON QUIXOTE, only talk about its comic and picaresque qualities. I have to wonder if those people have read the entire book if they were "victims" of teachers who simply assigned "portions" of the book to be read. This book has it all. Yes, it is comic and picaresque. But it is also profoundly sad and tragic, bittersweet and poignant, sentimental and realistic. It is a strange mix of reality and fantasy, of the real and the imagined.
Structurally, DON QUIXOTE is a very sophisticated book and there are novellas and plays and even poetry wrapped in this huge, wondrous novel. For me, at least, they make the book all the more fascinating, though I do know readers who found DON QUIXOTE structurally frustrating or annoying. Much of that annoyance, I think, has been stripped away in Grossman's lovely translation. There is also a wonderful blend of fantasy and reality in DON QUIXOTE. As I've already said, the "Spanishness" of this novel cannot be understated. And Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Dulcinea and yes, even Rosinante are real, fully-fleshed out characters. But there are so many other characters in this book who make only brief appearances and are the product of Quixote's (and Cervantes's) imagination...just as are the famous windmills and Quixote's quest for a better, more perfect world.
The book ends on a pitch perfect note, one that combines the tragic and comic, the real and the fantastic. Most people, I think, are familiar with the ending of DON QUIXOTE, but just in case you aren't, I don't want to ruin it here, because, if you're a first time reader of this wonderful book you certainly in for a real, and rare, treat.
DON QUIXOTE has been called the "first modern novel." It really doesn't matter if it is or it isn't. What does matter is that it is a fascinating, one-of-a-kind reading experience that shouldn't be overlooked by anyone.
5.0 out of 5 stars On the importance of DOUBT ...,
1575 Cervantes embarked for the umpteenth time (the Spanish king fought with his ships against Arabian kings) in the Mediterranean area, but this time he was captured by a Turkish ship and was brought as a prisoner of war to Algiers, where Cervantes spent five years in dungeon custody. In his novel we can find a fragment, where the hero Don Quijote frees a procession of galley prisoners. This chapter for example had been written with the author's knowledge of his own real time of captivity. For five months Spain's enemies put Cervantes in iron chains to break his will. But Cervantes managed a strike of twenty-five thousand prisoners of war. So Spain's enemies felt glad, when the king of Spain paid a large sum of gold, to set him free. Back in Spain Cervantes wrote his story about Don Quijote and his servant Sancho Panza, the master of doubts. And mainly this is a book about the importance of DOUBT. Cervantes knew: it could be dangerous, to fight as a hero without any doubts - that is his everlasting message. He was the forerunner of all people, who are warning, that individuals, communities or systems sometimes live a complete lie - and therefore will meet their catastrophe in their very end. But Cervantes is giving this message with humor - compare, on the other hand, the serious atmosphere of the elder parts of the bible! The ironic Odyssey of Miguel de Cervantes therefore belongs in the row of the most important cultural products in the story of Old Europe...
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss it!,
Don Quixote is a somewhat autobiographical account from Miguel Cervantes about a middle class man in Spain, who decides to take on the name "Don Quixote of La Mancha" and with that to take on the noble profession of knight errant. One who upholds chivalry and goes around the country righting wrongs, rescuing maidens, and stopping evil. This is somewhat autobiographical because many of the events and places are directly inspired from Cervantes' life, but he never became an actual knight errant, though he was a soldier.
Don Quixote recruits a local peasant to act as his squire (Sancho Panza) and they go off on a series of adventures. In one of these very first and most famous adventures Don Quixote charges a series of windmills believing them to be giants, and most of the rest of the series of adventures is similar to this. After awhile other people find out about Don Quixote's efforts and the interactions with them are quite funny at times.
In fact one of the other aspects of this novel that I absolutely love is the humor with which it is told. The stories are absolutely hysterical at times, all with that kind of tongue in cheek humor. As you read them you will think that many of them are cliche but it was in fact Cervantes who is at the root of many of these cliches, in other words Don Quixote is the inspiration of the very cliches.
I wholeheartedly recommend this novel to everyone. It is quite long and will take you awhile to read, but I recommend breaking it up into a couple of chapters and reading them every few nights. This will of course take even longer but I really feel that's the best way to read it. In fact if it weren't for some of the more ribald situations, Don Quixote would make a great novel to read to kids, reading a chapter or two every night, maybe a parent with creative editing capabilities could pull off such an effect. Overall, you should read this book, it brings a whole new perspective to modern novels. But try it for yourself! Another book I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Cervantes, but very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an exceptional, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most delightful and enjoyable of all the classics,
Let's face it: some of the great classics are a chore to read. PILGRIM'S PROGRESS and ROBINSON CRUSOE are not exactly page turners. Even Dante and Shakespeare, as rewarding as they can be, are not always easy to read. But DON QUIXOTE is that rare classic that is both utterly delightful and extraordinarily easy to read. Like all classics, the more effort you put into understanding this great book the more your efforts are rewarding, but what amazes me about Cervantes's masterpiece is how amazingly effortless reading it is. It is not at all misleading to describe the volume as a page turner.
DON QUIXOTE is such a marvelously complex and rich book that everyone's reading of the novel will be unique. My delight in the book stems from two main sources. First is Cervantes's miraculous gift as a storyteller. Although the novel is without any possible question one of the four or five most influential works of literature in history, every chapter seems eternally fresh and enchanting. Everyone knows at least something about the book, usually about Don Quixote and Sancho Panza and the incident of the windmills, and many imagine that from this they have some notion of what the novel is like. But these impressions rarely hint at Cervantes's genius as a spinner of tales, of his playfulness, of his acute sense of humor, his originality, and his inventiveness. Though we like to imagine that we "know" Don Quixote, Cervantes manages to surprise the reader on nearly every page. He is especially delightful in the second half of the novel, published several years after the first part, which allows Cervantes to depict Quixote and Sancho as famous celebrities because of the success of the first half. Whereas in the first half they labored in obscurity, in the second half they reign as celebrities. Cervantes also jousts with the real life author of an unauthorized second half to DON QUIXOTE.
Second, I find the novel delightful for the richness and brilliance of the two central characters. Don Quixote is a character about whom it is possible to say many true things, without thereby exhausting what it is possible to say. He is insane-and despite 20th and 21st century attempts to celebrate this as an attempt to condemn the insanity of society of a whole and assert an alternative form of rationality, we are not intended to admire his insanity. This is not CATCH-22. Rather, Cervantes sees Quixote's insanity as an affliction. In terms of early 17th century psychology, Quixote goes insane from a drying up of the brain induced by staying up too many nights reading books on chivalry (it was thought at the time that the brain gradually dried up while staying awake and remoisturized at night while asleep). Many of Quixote's moments of greatest folly occur after nights spent without sleep, and his sanity at the end of the book is restored after finally managing to sleep for several hours. Despite this (though not because of it), Quixote is a lovable and admirable character. We hurt for him, but we admire his genuine physical courage, his high moral principles, his devotion to his cause, and his powerful sense of justice. Equally delightful is Sancho Panza, who seems incapable of uttering anything without it being imbued with unintentional humor. Indeed, many of my favorite parts of the book are those where Sancho simply starts talking. The two, of course, enjoy a host of "adventures," but these are mainly just excuses to provide settings for Quixote and Sancho to shine. As readers we care less about their next adventures than for the opportunity and privilege of spending time in their company.
One commentator in the documentary on Terry Gilliam's failed attempt to film DON QUIXOTE correctly points out that the more we see Don Quixote suffer under his insanity, the more we come to care for and love him. This is a profound truth. No matter how delusional he becomes, we want things to end well for him, but worry that perhaps his madness has gone too far, and indeed if there is a tragic moment in the book it is when he returns home to his village defeated.
This is truly one of the great books every written, and of all the classics, one of the most readable and loveable.
5.0 out of 5 stars LIKE BEING IN A TIME CAPSULE,
"DON QUIXOTE" HAS BEEN CALLED THE FIRST NOVEL EVER WRITTEN AND THE BEST NOVEL EVER WRITTEN. MANY OF THE LEADING LITERARY FIGURES OF THE PAST CENTURY MAKE THE POINT OF READING IT EVERY YEAR. IT IS A LONG BOOK BUT WORTH IT, A JOY EACH EVENING. IT IS NOT ALWAYS EASY READING. ANYTHING THAT OLD IS GOING TO HAVE ITS PATCHES, BUT THE STORY IS LYRICAL, SWEET, BRAVE, COURAGEOUS, IRONIC AND MANY OTHER THINGS.
READING CERVANTES IS LIKE GOING BACK IN TIME. IT IS A WINDOW INTO EUROPE AROUND 1600. CERVANTES WAS A MILITARY MAN AND FAILED WRITER UNTIL "DON QUIXOTE'S" PUBLICATION AND THE SUCCESS OF SOME OF HIS STAGEPLAYS BROUGHT HIM FAME AND FORTUNE THE LAST COUPLE YEARS OF HIS LIFE. HIS BACKGROUND AND INSIGHT REMINDS ME SOMEWHAT OF DOSTOEVSKY.
"QUIXOTE" IS FILLED WITH CHRISTIAN REFERENCE. THE CATHOLICISM OF SPAIN WAS THE OVERRIDING THEME OF THAT COUTRY AND THAT TIME. THERE ARE ALSO SEMI-RACIST REFERENCES TO ARABS AS UNCLEAN, TELLING IN LIGHT OF MOORISH INVASIONS AND OCUPATION STILL FRESH IN THE SPANISH MINDSET.
OF COURSE, THE STORY IS PROPELLED BY THE ODD PARTNERING OF QUIXOTE AND SANCHO, WHICH COULD BE THE BEGINNING OF THE MODERN "BUDDY STORY," AND OF COURSE THE ROMANTIC WANDERINGS OF QUIXOTE FOR DULCINEA. IT HAS EVEN BEEN SAID THAT "DON QUIXOTE" PLAYED A FACTOR IN GEORGE PATTON'S PLANS FOR THE INVASION OF SICILY, SINCE HE WAS CALLED A 17TH CENTURY MAN WHO LIVED HIS OWN LIFE AS A QUIXOTE-TYPE FUGURE.
AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN"
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Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes (Paperback - April 14 2005)
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