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Is Don Quixote Unreadable? 
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Perhaps this book is unreadable and it is certainly long. But I'm in no hurry. And maybe it depends how you read it. I'm reading it as episodes, just a few at a time, like one might watch episodes of a sitcom, where you know the characters and the general story line and you sit down and watch what will happen in a particular episode. Then I can sit back and reflect on the episodes to see if they mean anything to me beyond the narrative. This might be a simple minded approach but as the books go by I think the accumulation of episodes will help me form some thoughts about broader meanings. I found the famous windmill episode to be short and quite uninteresting but other episodes, like the destruction of DQ's books of chivalry, to be lengthy and detailed and really explore the meaning of books and authority.



Fri May 14, 2010 5:52 pm
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
It's interesting to note that Don Quixote's most famous adventure (the adventure of the windmills) is the shortest adventure in the entire book.

I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it is interesting.



Sat May 15, 2010 1:11 am
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
giselle wrote:
Perhaps this book is unreadable and it is certainly long. But I'm in no hurry. And maybe it depends how you read it. I'm reading it as episodes, just a few at a time, like one might watch episodes of a sitcom, where you know the characters and the general story line and you sit down and watch what will happen in a particular episode. Then I can sit back and reflect on the episodes to see if they mean anything to me beyond the narrative. This might be a simple minded approach but as the books go by I think the accumulation of episodes will help me form some thoughts about broader meanings. I found the famous windmill episode to be short and quite uninteresting but other episodes, like the destruction of DQ's books of chivalry, to be lengthy and detailed and really explore the meaning of books and authority.

I think you touch on a good point, which is the reader's expectations, the reader's habits, and how these change through time and can alter the view we have of a "classic" book. You may be reading this more as Cervantes' original audience did.


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Sat May 15, 2010 8:19 am
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
bleachededen wrote:
It's interesting to note that Don Quixote's most famous adventure (the adventure of the windmills) is the shortest adventure in the entire book.

I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it is interesting.



DWill wrote:
giselle wrote:
Perhaps this book is unreadable and it is certainly long. But I'm in no hurry. And maybe it depends how you read it. I'm reading it as episodes, just a few at a time, like one might watch episodes of a sitcom, where you know the characters and the general story line and you sit down and watch what will happen in a particular episode. Then I can sit back and reflect on the episodes to see if they mean anything to me beyond the narrative. This might be a simple minded approach but as the books go by I think the accumulation of episodes will help me form some thoughts about broader meanings. I found the famous windmill episode to be short and quite uninteresting but other episodes, like the destruction of DQ's books of chivalry, to be lengthy and detailed and really explore the meaning of books and authority.

I think you touch on a good point, which is the reader's expectations, the reader's habits, and how these change through time and can alter the view we have of a "classic" book. You may be reading this more as Cervantes' original audience did.


Who was Cervantes' audience? I doubt it was 21C north americans. I also expect that Cervantes went to his grave not knowing that his book would be a 'classic'. I'm not sure what literacy rates were in Spain or Europe in the 1600's but I will venture to guess they were pretty low, so the educated population were Cervantes readers and audience. But stories like DQ's adventures were told orally among the masses. Perhaps, in the transition to a largely literate society, works like this became more accessible not only because more people could read but because the episodes or adventures are really little stand alone stories and, for a slow reader, can be read and understood in a fairly short period of time. They remind me of comic book episodes. This version of DQ does not have illustrations, but I can just about see such illustrations as I read.

I noticed that Cervantes repeats his characters' names more often than necessary at times, giving me the impression that he wanted to be clear about who was involved in a particular adventure because the reader may not have the benefit of the previous story or the overall flow of the book. Just speculation, of course, based on zero research but that's my impression.



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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
I have to say, I am enjoying this book. I have never attempted to read Don Quixote before and it is nice to know that this translation is well done. The translation can make a huge difference. I think that if it were the wrong translation it may be unreadable. It would be great to read it in Spanish someday.

Don Quixote is such an endearing character. Yet, at the same time, I find myself feeling sorry for him. I have just started the book so I am interested to see where it goes. He seems to be so trusting of others and willing to believe that everyone lives by honor. This belief seems to get Quixote and other people he comes across into trouble sometimes. :(



Tue May 18, 2010 9:35 pm
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
I have been reading "Don Quixote" for what seems like months now, actually, I think it has been months. Although I do enjoy it, it does not hold my attention, it does not call out to me, "read me, read me" like many other novels. I think I have read about six other books while keeping a place mark in DQ.

bleachededen wrote:
It's interesting to note that Don Quixote's most famous adventure (the adventure of the windmills) is the shortest adventure in the entire book.


I also found this interesting. I have browsed art work depicting DQ and most of it features the windmills. Picaso features the horse, which is another wonderful visual. But I do think the windmills make for a strong impression, where some other adventures are more subtle, and don't really lend themselves to a visual picture. "Fighting windmills", that makes a strong impact, and a great old cliche.



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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Suzanne wrote:

bleachededen wrote:
It's interesting to note that Don Quixote's most famous adventure (the adventure of the windmills) is the shortest adventure in the entire book.


I also found this interesting. I have browsed art work depicting DQ and most of it features the windmills. Picaso features the horse, which is another wonderful visual. But I do think the windmills make for a strong impression, where some other adventures are more subtle, and don't really lend themselves to a visual picture. "Fighting windmills", that makes a strong impact, and a great old cliche.


It kind of makes me think that many people only read that first section and then gave up, and that is how Don Quixote became such a classic -- because the first few adventures were enough to sate the reader and give them the full meaning of the book in that small, early section.

This is only speculation, of course, but it does warrant a bit of questioning.

Does it also bother anyone else that Don Quixote never actually even saw Aldonza Lorenzo (the Lady Dulcinea), but spends the entire book pining for her and desperate to disenchant her after being tricked by Sancho? Seriously, doesn't anyone else find that really weird??



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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
The Lady Dulcinea may be just a living character for him, a lady worthy of courtly love like so many others he has read about. He may feel as if he knows her very well because he has read all those books and has a picture in his mind of how she should look and the qualities she would possess. It could be possible this is how he sees himself as well, he may not realize that he is fifty some years old and feeble. He has certainly imersed himself in these books of chivalry. Women that he does know, in his home villiage probably do not meet his expectations.



Thu May 20, 2010 3:27 am
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Suzanne wrote:
The Lady Dulcinea may be just a living character for him, a lady worthy of courtly love like so many others he has read about. He may feel as if he knows her very well because he has read all those books and has a picture in his mind of how she should look and the qualities she would possess. It could be possible this is how he sees himself as well, he may not realize that he is fifty some years old and feeble. He has certainly imersed himself in these books of chivalry. Women that he does know, in his home villiage probably do not meet his expectations.


The peerless and beauteous Lady Dulcinea of Toboso, the great love of Don Quixote, is Cervantes' gentle way of mocking the Blessed Virgin Mary, a nonexistent icon of the imagination.



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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Robert Tulip wrote:
The peerless and beauteous Lady Dulcinea of Toboso, the great love of Don Quixote, is Cervantes' gentle way of mocking the Blessed Virgin Mary, a nonexistent icon of the imagination.


Interesting.

Now, if you put your comment together with mine, how would Cervantes view the Bible? Since Don has an image of a fictional woman, a fictional woman based on nonexistent female characters from his books of chivalry, and these books were all burned, burned by a priest no less . . .
Hmmm?

Maybe this has already been discussed, sorry teacher, coming in late for class. I am starting to see a new layer to DQ.



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Thu May 20, 2010 6:56 am
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Suzanne wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
The peerless and beauteous Lady Dulcinea of Toboso, the great love of Don Quixote, is Cervantes' gentle way of mocking the Blessed Virgin Mary, a nonexistent icon of the imagination.
Interesting. Now, if you put your comment together with mine, how would Cervantes view the Bible? Since Don has an image of a fictional woman, a fictional woman based on nonexistent female characters from his books of chivalry, and these books were all burned, burned by a priest no less . . .Hmmm? Maybe this has already been discussed, sorry teacher, coming in late for class. I am starting to see a new layer to DQ.
Hi Suzanne, yes we have started to talk about religion in DQ a bit in other threads. I see Don Quixote as a satire of Christendom, while DWill argues it is light entertainment. On my reading, Cervantes sails as close to the wind as he can to mock the church by proxy. His overall goal is to support modern rational philosophy against the dreamy speculative dogma of earlier times, with chivalry a proxy for theology. The Inquisition was still burning heretics such as Giordano Bruno at the stake (in 1600), and they edited DQ to delete a comment seen as critical of Catholic dogma. However, Cervantes was too brilliant for them, using the form of popular fiction to conceal a savage attack on the entire magical outlook of traditional religion.



Fri May 21, 2010 3:08 pm
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
jan wrote:
I liked Randy's reminder about the philosophical part of the book. I read the older translation 30 years ago and it is the overarching philosophies and principles presented in DQ that I remember all these years later. I am still at the beginning of this newer one and hope to knock off a bit today.

I certainly do not feel either translation is unreadable. I does not read like a Michael Crichton, but certainly holds my attention. I would be curious to compare the 2 translations. I may dig my old one out and compare a few passages. Has anyone done this?
jan

Thanks. When you get to the philosophical parts, you might write a post, because I'm interested in talking about these. I noted someone's remark that in the second half, Don Q. sounds like Montaigne. I didn't have this impression of Don's disquisitions myself, but maybe I'm missing something. Don Q. impressed me as a man a good sense when he spoke on topics outside of knight errantry, but I wouldn't call his thoughts particularly philosophical. Perhaps it's in how you define that word. When he gives his views on a variety of subjects, invariably somebody comments with wonder how a man can be so crazy-sounding on the subject of knight-errantry, yet so reasonable when speaking of anything else. To me, Cervantes very purposefully does this to make it clear that the knight-errantry ideals themselves aren't what we should be admiring in Don Q.

The "unreadable" label (which I now regret having started) didn't have to do with any translator's handling of the language, but rather the accumulation of episodes of basically the same nature, the digressive stories, and the lack of character development in a very long book. These things could be a barrier regardless of who translated.


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Last edited by DWill on Fri May 21, 2010 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
This one has gotten the better of me. I have tried. I believe I read "War and Peace" twice in a shorter period of time than it has taken me to read 400 pages of DQ.

I feel as though I am reading the same thing over and over again. DQ sees an opportunity, seizes it, gets beaten up, everyone calls him crazy, Sancho gets frustrated. Then, the cycle repeats. "Wash, rinse, repeat". I find myself reading the words, just to get through it, not good. But I know, if I put it down, I will never pick it up again. What a dilemma!

I just can't make myself take my place mark out of this book. The comments from everyone, especially Robert and DWill are great, I should be enjoying this book, but it just ain't happenin. I really don't want to banish it to the "don't want to read it, but want to finish it" pile, which needs dusting, but I am very close to doing it.

Alas, for me, Don Qioxote may be unreadable.



Thu May 27, 2010 6:44 am
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Quote:
Alas, for me, Don Qioxote may be unreadable.


I understand, Suzanne. I like Don Quixote but my unreadable book was the Odyssey. I swear, that story was never going to end!



Thu May 27, 2010 8:55 am
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Hi, I finished Don Quixote last week and loved it.



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