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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best version of Don Quixote I've come across
I have a couple versions of Don Quixote, and I've looked at others, and this version, translated by J. M. Cohen, is my personal favorite. From his introduction you find that he has a great love for Spanish literature in general, and this book in particular. His translation of the first sentence alone makes the book; "Idle reader, you can believe without any oath of...
Published on Jan. 23 2004 by Steve Fuson

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars I have to say that this was not at all what I was expecting.
My conception of the quixotic dreamer is someone who has the courage to dream big, in spite of the nay-sayers of the world. I was surprised to see that Cervantes did not share my sympathy for dreamers- it was obvious he felt that Don Quixote was simply a fool, and nuts to boot. I kept hoping that Quixote would be vindicated at some point, that something good would come...
Published on Sept. 2 1999 by ejewel


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best version of Don Quixote I've come across, Jan. 23 2004
I have a couple versions of Don Quixote, and I've looked at others, and this version, translated by J. M. Cohen, is my personal favorite. From his introduction you find that he has a great love for Spanish literature in general, and this book in particular. His translation of the first sentence alone makes the book; "Idle reader, you can believe without any oath of mine that I would wish this book, as the child of my brain, to be the most beautiful, the liveliest and the cleverest imaginable." Due to the subtlety of languages, every version I've read of this sentence is different, and I don't know much Spanish, nor do I have a Spanish copy to ask a friend to translate it for me, so I couldn't tell you what version is most accurate, but I can tell you that J. M. Cohen's version seems to fit the tone and tempo of the rest of the book.
This version also collects both the first and second Don Quixote novels by Cervantes. I haven't seen any other collection which has this, and I can't find the sequel on it's own.
The book itself is very funny. Unlike the way Don Quixote is often protrayed, Don Quixote doesn't go mad, he simply chooses to see the world differently, to see himself as a knight, to see windmills as giants, to see inn's as castles. His exploits cause him to have quite a bit of painful accidents, but he continues on. Sancho Panza, often described as a "simple fool" I believe may have been mentally retarded, because he genuinely believed the things his master told him, despite all evidence to the contrary. At times, he would make up stories to get out of errands Don Quixote sent him on, and, like a child, would come to believe his own fictions.
In their journeys they meet a variety of characters, some boring which Don Quixote makes interesting, some interesting which Don Quixote ignores, thinking them boring. They find adventures where none are to be had, and sleep while genuine adventurs occur all around them.
It's a brilliant story which still holds up over four hundred years after it origionally saw print, and in this translation, including both books, is quite a pleasure to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where to begin?, Feb. 13 2003
By 
nto62 (Corona, CA USA) - See all my reviews
How do I, a literary amateur, rate a book nearly 400 years old that has been acclaimed by not a few scholarly experts as the greatest novel ever written? I feel a bit like the boy who had the temerity to point out that the emperor was naked, for I have failed to award Don Quixote five stars. Judged by modern-day standards, Cervantes could be accused of sloppiness. He confuses the chronology of his own storyline in several places, though this is as charming as it is perplexing. Seeking to satirically skewer the tales of chivalrous knights-errant popular at the time, Cervantes presents us with Quixote, a loveable madman, and his squire, Sancho Panza, who fluctuates between utter naivete and admirable sagacity throughout. The pair are nothing if not endearing. Sallying forth to right wrongs, assist the down-trodden, and punish the wicked, the two find themselves in a pragmatic and cynical world, astonished and humored by the lunatic idealism of Quixote and the simpleminded fealty of his squire.
Over the course of 5 weeks I read Don Quixote and the experience was varied. At times enthralled, at times merely mildly amused, I looked eagerly forward to resuming the book and, on occasion, half-heartedly attempted to avoid it. To be blunt, there is much in the book that borders on childlike innocence, but there is much as well that strikes a deep chord of love, idealism, perserverence, and grace. On the surface, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza could be regarded as fools. Beneath this foolishness, however, lie the hearts of lions and an unconquerable spirit which provide the ultimate reward to the reader.
The book ends abruptly and badly. After so many adventures through so many pages it was disappointing to behold the manner in which Cervantes opted to close. However, this should by no means dissuade the potential reader. Indeed, Don Quixote, for everything wonderful contained within it, should be read by all. For those who choose to do so, the Putnam translation is outstanding and footnoted with excellent detail.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The long way around, but a good trip anyway, June 21 2003
By 
Eric W. (High Point, NC USA) - See all my reviews
Took longer than I thought it would? Oh, yes. Glad I read it? You bet. There are abridged versions, to be sure, even "kids" versions, but if you're going to do this at all, I say swallow the pill and go for a full translation (1,000+ pages).
Since the main story has been covered further down the list, I'll just touch on a point or two that were pertinent to my experience. There were more than a few digressions from the main story in the first part (I thought they'd NEVER leave the inn the second time). To keep it short, everything that bothered me about Part One bothered Sanson Carrasco, too (that chapter was definitely and interesting way for the author to meet his critics halfway). I'm going to give you the advice you're probably going to get from EVERYBODY: if part one leaves you shaking your head, keep moving, because part two delivers undiluted Knight of the Rueful Figure with very few middlemen.
In the Signet edition, Mr. Starkie also throws in an introductory essay about Cervantes and a decent amount of footnotes to point out the references to genuine chivalric literature...always a good thing.
If your project this summer (this fall, this year, or whenever) is to fill your head with interesting ideas, Don Quixote is a good book to visit.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Don Quijote, by a spanish author, April 18 2003
By A Customer
I read this book in its original language, spanish (since it is my first language too), and I found Don Quijote's adventures fascinating, comical, and sometimes even slightly pathetic.
"El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha" is about a man, Alonso Quijana, who reads so many books of knights from the middle ages (this was written in the baroque times, NOT the renaissance or the enlightement as other reviews say) that he loses his mind and decides to become a knight as well. This anacronysm is the first clue of the comic life Don Quijote leads from then on.
The whole novel is a mockery of other books about knights (although not about the knights themselves), as Don Quijote continually struggles to do justice and to right wrongs, but is met with nothing but sad defeats.
Overall, although it is very long and uses somewhat complicated language (it is written in spanish from the 1600s, although I suppose that the translation makes it simpler as it is to modern day words), Don Quijote and his adventures are something that I'd reccomend to anyone with the patience to read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent edition of this classic., Jan. 21 2003
By 
Daryl Anderson (Trumansburg, NY USA) - See all my reviews
Note: Amazon.com seems to have a hard time linking reviews to specific editions - it makes a difference. This review is of the Modern Library edition, ISBN-0679602860, translated by Samuel Putnam. I am reposting it, hoping it will link correctly this time).
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When you approach reading (or rereading) a "classic" work you really, mostly, don't have to think about whether to read it -- that decision was either made by someone assigning it to you or, more wonderfully, by you, yourself deciding to swim contra-current against the cultural waters... following Neil Young's advice to "turn off that MTV."
So. You are going to read it. And, if you are paddling the Amazon.com, here, you are going to buy and OWN it. The question really becomes which edition you should own.
This is the one.
Its a fine translation - surprising in its avoidance of archaic language. It has a nice structure - the inevitable notes are available but not obtrusive.
This edition, the Modern Library hardback edition, translated by Putnam, is also a nice book to own. It isn't one of those pretty faux-leather "shelf-candy" copies that'll break your wallet first. This is a hardworking book - the essence of the Modern Library idea. But it is a wonderful packaging of the whole 1000+ pages that is both readable and shelvable. No thousand-page paperback will survive an actual reading as anything you would want excepting as backup next to the latrine.
Did I mention that it is a great book, great story? Well, others over the years have managed that :-). But I will loudly agree. I'm rereading it only now after a 35 year hiatus (yes, indeed, classics can be lost on the young - thats why you want books that last. In 35 more years, when you turn your lance back toward targets you thought you left behind, a copy will cost you [a lot of money]). It is just plain startling in its innovations and story. I always thought Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepard were the first to break down that "third wall" and talk to the audience - yet here is Cervantes doing so five centuries back ! Wow.
Even if you've been made to buy it and to read it, buy a nice copy. Read the "Cliff notes" if you must, but someday you'll be a crazy old coot like Don Q. (or me) and want to toss something more meaningful than Palahniuk (or even Rushdie) at the cobwebs that cling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST edition to buy and own, Jan. 16 2003
By 
Daryl Anderson (Trumansburg, NY USA) - See all my reviews
When you approach reading (or rereading) a "classic" work you really, mostly, don't have to think about whether to read it -- that decision was either made by someone assigning it to you or, more wonderfully, by you, yourself deciding to swim contra-current the cultural waters; following Neil Young to "turn off that MTV."
So. You are going to read it. And, if you are paddling the Amazon, here, you are going to buy and OWN it. The question really becomes which edition you should own.
This is the one.
Its a fine translation - surprising in its avoidance of archaic language. It has a nice structure - the inevitable notes are available but not obtrusive.
It is also, this one, the Modern Library hardback edition, a nice book to own. It isn't one of those pretty faux-leather "shelf-candy" copies that'll break your wallet first. This is a hardworking book - the essence of the Modern Library idea. But it is a wonderful packaging of the whole 1000+ pages that is both readable and shelvable. No thousand-page paperback will survive an actual reading as anything you would want excepting as backup next to the latrine.
Did I mention that it is a great book, great story? Well, others over the years have managed that :-). But I will loudly agree. I'm rereading it only now after a 35 year hiatus (yes, indeed, classics can be lost on the young - thats why you want books that last. In 35 more years, when you turn your lance back toward targets you thought you left behind, a copy will cost you [a lot of money]). It is just plain startling in its innovations and story. I always thought Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepard were the first to break down that "third wall" and talk to the audience - yet here is Cervantes doing so five centuries back ! Wow.
Even if you've been made to buy it and to read it, buy a nice copy. Read the "Cliff notes" if you must, but someday you'll be a crazy old coot like Don Q. (or me) and want to toss something more meaningful than Palahniuk (or even Rushdie) at the cobwebs that cling.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, Dec 15 2002
By 
Christina (Columbus, OH USA) - See all my reviews
Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote obviously centers around the title character, Don Quixote. Quixote was originally known as Alonso Quixano, La Manchan noble, who was content with reading stories of knighthood and chivalry and tending to his estate. Eventually, after reading these books, he decided it is his responsibility to set out with someone else in his village (Sancho Panza, his squire) to right the wrongs of people across Spain. Sancho Panza seems to be a very grounded person, but he admires Don Quixote so much his good sense disappears. In the beginning, Panza agreed to leave his family and travel with Quixote only because he promised Panza he would become the governor of the first island they came to; when this doesn't happen, Panza doesn't leave because he loves to company of the eccentric Quixote.
All the adventures Don Quixote goes on are in the name of his love Dulcinia, and although she never makes an appearance in the book she seems to embody chivalric ideals. Unfortunately for our protagonists, Don Quixote often has confusion with the real and imaginary, mistaking inns for castles, grazing sheep for conflicting armies, windmills for enemy enchanters and traveling monks for wizards transporting a princess against her will. All mistakes are blamed on a powerful necromancer, who is Don Quixote's mortal enemy (since all knights have them.) Although Quixote is mocked by many, in the end they mimic his restlessness and discomfort for what is considered "normal" in society.
Overall, I'm glad I read Don Quixote even though it was longer then I bargained for. The book helped me get a better picture of what life was like in Spain during the Renaissance period. I learned simple things like there actually were windmills in other parts of Europe besides the Netherlands and more complex things like exactly what chivalry and its ideals consist of.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, poignant tales of imprisonment and enchantment, June 3 2002
By 
Penn Jacobs (Rutherford, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
Miguel De Cervantes fought at the Battle of Lepanto, where the Spanish decisively defeated the Ottoman Empire. Cervantes, however, was imprisoned for several years by the Moors.
Reading Don Quixote this past winter, I was struck by how that experience is woven through Don Quixote. Part novel, part collection of tales, Don Quixote's world is one of flux and change. This world is the setting for many quests: Moors seeking true love and acceptance in Spain, enslaved Spaniards yearning for freedom, Don Quixote striving to disenchant his Dulcinea, and Sancho Panza looking for an island to govern.
Is the world being enchanted or drained of magic? Both readings are plausible. Don Quixote distrusts appearances, and we can't tell if he's genius or fool for doing so.
If this sounds highfalutin, let me add that this novel includes great slapstick that made me put down the book and laugh out loud. While there are some slow passages (maybe an abridgement would be best to read), they can be gotten through with a little effort. The best passages are priceless.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What You Don't Remember About This Book, May 30 2002
By 
Jimmy E Ayala (Glenview, IL, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
What else can someone say about "Don Quixote"?

I have Pablo Picasso's pen and ink drawing of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza hanging on the wall. The windmills are on the horizon behind them.
Chasing the windmills. Everybody knows who did that, even if they never picked up the book. But if you have never read the book, you don't remember other things about the story.
You don't remember how the old man went insane when they walled up his library? You don't remember in "Don Quixote, Part Two," the old man and Sancho Panza at the printers reading about themselves in the new book titled "Don Quixote, Part Two"?
Sancho picks up the galley sheets and reads about themselves up tp the very point where they are at the printers reading about themselves. The author of those galley sheets is Miguel Cervantes, whom they have heard of and like very much.
Who can imagine characters in a novel approving of the author who created them? We had to wait five hundred years before Luigi Pirandello wrote something similar in his play, "Sic Characters In Search of an Author."
Sancho reads part of the new book entitled "Don Quixote, Part Two" by a different author. He shows it to the old man. It is to much for the old man, who drags Sancho out the door and away from that disturbing book by another author.
This out Borges Borges!
Jorge Luis Borges, the blind South American poet, wrote a small story about the real author of Don Quixote. It is very cute and amusing. Go buy Borges' book also.
"Don Quixote" is a very modern book. The story is simple. There are no hard parts in these pages, The is no chapter like The Grand Inquisitor chapter in that other book.
The Modern Library edition of "Don Quixote" has been on my shelves for about thirty years. Get this book and read it. It is required reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A most enjoyable, entertaining classic, Aug. 1 2001
By 
Tom Hinkle (Tulsa, OK USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Almost everyone knows about Don Quixote battling the windmills that he mistakes for giants. Of course, that is only one very, very small part of the story. The many adventures encountered (and created) by the brave Knight of Mournful Countenance and his faithful squire Sancho Panza make for enjoyable, if sometimes frustrating reading. The frustrating part is the tendency of Cervantes to veer off the path of the central story onto side roads that deals with the stories of peripheral characters. However, Cervantes himself realizes this by the time he composes Part Two, which was written ten years later than the first part, and his self-depracation makes the meanderings of the first part forgivable.
Everything else is purely enjoyable. Some sections of the novel are hysterical, but there is always a melancholy undertone because, the fact is, Don Quixote is a man living in a state of unreality, an object of ridicule and sport (and sometimes, suprisingly, admiration) to the world. The faithfulness of more aware, though simpleminded Sancho Panza is a testament to the loyalty of friendship, although the limits of friendship are tested often. Sancho's character is more fully developed in Part Two, as he is shown to be somewhat of an idiot savant, a prattler of endless proverbs who sometimes stumbles into near genius. By the end of the book, I found Sancho to be a more interesting character, to me, than Don Quixote himself.
This book took me several months to read. Although an extremely long book, it lends itself to being read in bits and pieces, sometimes with long intervals between readings. While I felt a sense of accomplishment in reading the almost 1200 pages, I was almost sad to see it end, which is high praise for a book such as this. "Don Quixote" is a classic in the best sense of the word.
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Don Quixote
Don Quixote by Cervantes Miguel (Audio CD - March 1 1995)
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