on March 15, 2011
The book i received was not the one pictured when i made the purchase. Sellers should always inform the buyer of this if it is going to happen. I received an unattractive orange library book with pencil markings in it....
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 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.
on October 9, 2003
If you could have one book on a desert island this would be it.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2003
Don Quixote is a classic piece of literature. If someone could produce a more up to date, vernacular translation, it would rival any comedy made today. This is a story about one man caught up in so many chivalry books that he becomes insane and starts traveling through Spain acting as a heroic knight while fighting made up villains and monsters. By his side is his gullible yet loyal servant Sancho.
It's nice to know that during the Renaissance period such humor existed. The first part of the book deals with him traveling throughout and mixing up inns for castles, random people as kings or knights, and a random woman as his unrequited love for which all of the world must know. It's a tragic comedy where one man's insanity and futility provide worry for a few, concern for others, and great entertainment for most of the characters.
What's interesting is the "twist" in the middle that leads to the second part, where after one man wrote a book about Don Quixote's wild adventures, a rich family, upon seeing the actual man who was in the book, decide to play along in probably the cruelest hoax in history. Claiming there Duke and Duchess, and promising the most absurd things. One of which was giving Sancho an actual province to rule over.
The one thing that irked me about this book was that even though it needs to be translated for English readers, no translator has yet made the book as fluid or readable as it deserves to be.
All in all, it's a good book, but hopefully a general author, and not some stuffy scholar, could translate it what it should be - a really funny and tragic story.
on July 21, 2003
Did Cervantes write Don Quixote only for those in the early twenty first century with degrees in comparative Spanish literature?
This book is recommended to anyone interested in literature. This is not to say that it should not be read seriously and with close attention. Not everyone has the time or money to spend on degrees in Spanish literature
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2003
this is a pretty funny book about an errant-knight and his many misadventures. only problem is, there's really only one joke in this massive (1000+ page) book, namely, what a fool and madman this gallant knight is. after a while, the joke begins to wear thin. i don't think this is the greatest novel ever written. it's too poorly stuctured and one-dimensional for that grand distinction. i think the reason this book IS so famous is because of the character of don quixote himself. the image of the mad don charging giant windmills is one of the most colorful and memorable in all fiction. don quixote is one of the few examples of a character who transcends the book that created him. hamlet and falstaff are two other examples.
a good read, but doesn't live up to the hype.
on June 21, 2003
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.
on April 18, 2003
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2003
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.
on January 21, 2003
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).
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.