8 of 8 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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8 of 8 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.
11 of 12 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
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Fun!,
This review is from: Don Quixote (Paperback)
Potential readers should not be discouraged by the considerable length of the work. It turns out to be far more exciting that one could expect. The key is that the novel should not be considered at face value but as a parody of chivalric romances that apparently abounded in Cervantes' days. Thus, the reader discovers that a major theme of the work is the contrast, or rather the unfathomable gap, between literature and reality.
The work actually includes two separate books. The second written some time after the first was published includes many ironic comments on the latter. There are many funny moments throughout, as when Don Quixote meets for the first time another character claiming to be a knight errant ... who has defeated the famous Don Quixote. The description of the actual Dulcinea Del Toboso is also memorable.
It must be underscored that the excellent translation is very lively and includes a variety of styles and forms, apparently as in the original.
This work is consequently very highly recommended.
5 of 5 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.
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 the world falls victim to his perceptions of it as a place in which knights are assailed by magical forces and spells, in which the Helmet of Mambrino comes along for the taking and in which windmills are the enemy.
Don Quixote serves the lovely Dulcinea del Toboso, and performs his brave exploits in her honor. He has however never seen her (and she seems that she does not indeed exist), and some funny incidents happen when interactions are sought with her. Also, Don Quixote has promised Sancho an island to rule as governor, and Sancho pursues all avenues to achieve this end. In the second book of the novel, Sancho gets a chance to rule, and he shows interesting capabilities and savviness in the discharge of his duties.
The book is episodic, as Don Quixote and Sancho encounter various adventures and challenges. The reader has a humorous view of the two adventurers, able to see the reality in relief to their vision of the world. While Sancho seems not to have suffered a "psychic break" with the world, he is humorously flexible in his views; when it serves him, he accepts Don Quixote's explanations of reality, when it behooves him to see the world as it is, he does so, but modifies his retelling of his events for his master to maintain Don Quixote's illusion.
What comes first and foremost to mind is the line in the movie Quiz Show spoken by Charles Van Doren's father, a literature professor at Columbia University, as his students leave the lecture hall. Some of them cannot suspend their disbelief that a man could make his knightly fantasy last so long and be so believable (to himself), and Prof. Van Doren says he is able to be a knight because "he believes he is one" (or something to that effect). Strangely, it was this inadvertant lecture on Don Quixote that has made it most appealing to me, that explains the motivation and charm and compelling aspect of Don Quixote; he is chivalrous because he believes he is, he continues to honor those values because he believes they can be honored, and he believes that the world embraces his services because chivalry is alive, is needed, and its priests are welcomed.
Don Quixote's state of mind and construction of reality are humorous to be sure, but his beliefs in overarching values are appealing and made me think of what could be real because we make it so, what could be real for the better? As the novel progresses, Cervantes gives more credence to Don Quixote's value system, and less to those who are sane around him. It's an interesting read, and certainly a foundational work.
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.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not A Natural Sense of Rhythm,
A very good translation but it seems to me that it lacks the grace of the recent Penguin translator's work. Though this woman is considered well as a translator, this piece of work makes me fear for what the next translation may bring. There may be less in this translation that falls gracefully on my ear, and since I hear what I read, as a matter of course, this can be a special problem.
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...
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Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes (Paperback - April 14 2005)
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