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Is Don Quixote Unreadable? 
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Suzanne wrote:
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.


No shame, Suzanne. You went through William Faulkner no problem, so it's not as though you're in the habit of backing down from a challenge. Gave the Don a very fair hearing, too. Sometimes "ain't happenin'" is what we have to accept, especially when the book is reminding us of a shampoo bottle!

DWill


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Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Last edited by DWill on Thu May 27, 2010 5:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Thu May 27, 2010 5:48 pm
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Suzanne wrote:
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.


Maybe it's just not your time yet, Suzanne, like it's not my time yet to read Les Miserables. ;)

That being said, I understand your frustration, because I made it through Don Quixote by sheer force of will. I decided I was going to read it once and for all and be done with it, and by the time I'd reached Part II I felt I couldn't back down, even though I wanted to very badly, because I kept saying, "If I made it this far, I might as well finish the blasted thing." But I had stopped enjoying it long before that.

At some point we have to recognize and accept our limitations. Not everyone has to read Don Quixote, and I harbor no ill will towards them, and even possibly wish I was still among their numbers, and had not read it. :-P

It was certainly a learning experience, I'll give it that. And the discussions here helped keep me going, knowing there was someone I could share my thoughts with, even if it was just my hatred for the book.

Well done on War and Peace x2, though. I don't think I'd make it through page one of that book once, let alone twice! Bravo! :clap2:



Thu May 27, 2010 9:41 pm
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
DWill wrote:
No shame, Suzanne. You went through William Faulkner no problem, so it's not as though you're in the habit of backing down from a challenge. Gave the Don a very fair hearing, too. Sometimes "ain't happenin'" is what we have to accept, especially when the book is reminding us of a shampoo bottle!


It depends on the shampoo bottle, DWill. The "Herbal Essences" line of shampoo and conditioner bottles have odd facts on them in the form of question and answer. Each set of shampoo and conditioner bottles (i.e. smoothing, curl enhancing, volume boosting, what have you, the different color coded bottles) has a question on the shampoo bottle, with the corresponding answer on the conditioner bottle, and a question on the conditioner bottle with a corresponding answer on the shampoo bottle. So sometimes reading a shampoo bottle really is more exciting than reading Cervantes! :lol:



Thu May 27, 2010 9:46 pm
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Robert Tulip wrote:
Hi, I finished Don Quixote last week and loved it.


Well, la de da for you!


DWill wrote:
No shame, Suzanne. You went through William Faulkner no problem, so it's not as though you're in the habit of backing down from a challenge.


Yes for shame on me! Ohhhh! I'll stick with it.



Fri May 28, 2010 12:20 am
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
If I imagine the variety of books available to read at the present date versus what was likely available four hundred years ago. I could almost understand the appeal of DQ for both generations. On the one hand you have a story that was written at a time when library shelves must have been sparse. On the other you have a book we've all read or are reading, for good or bad curiosity got us. I thought the book was readable. it was slow at times, at others it was a page turner. Even though it was a translation I read, the gist of some of the themes I think still comes through well enough to appreciate a good story.



Fri May 28, 2010 1:15 am
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
bleachededen wrote:
DWill wrote:
No shame, Suzanne. You went through William Faulkner no problem, so it's not as though you're in the habit of backing down from a challenge. Gave the Don a very fair hearing, too. Sometimes "ain't happenin'" is what we have to accept, especially when the book is reminding us of a shampoo bottle!


It depends on the shampoo bottle, DWill. The "Herbal Essences" line of shampoo and conditioner bottles have odd facts on them in the form of question and answer. Each set of shampoo and conditioner bottles (i.e. smoothing, curl enhancing, volume boosting, what have you, the different color coded bottles) has a question on the shampoo bottle, with the corresponding answer on the conditioner bottle, and a question on the conditioner bottle with a corresponding answer on the shampoo bottle. So sometimes reading a shampoo bottle really is more exciting than reading Cervantes! :lol:

Wicked, wicked, wicked! I probably have had these shampoo bottles with me in the shower and never have known they can be so instructive. Can't read without my glasses, and whatever the wife and daughters have put in there is usually a mystery. It's all I can do to figure out whether the stuff makes a lather or not, whether to put it on my head at all, or even whether to eat it (if the word yoghurt appears in big letters). I admit I just give up sometimes and reach for the bar of soap.


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No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Fri May 28, 2010 5:03 am
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
You people are trashy. Don Quixote presents deep symbolic human archetypes of human identity - the visionary dreamer, the lazy fool, the indifferent cynic. Shampoo is just a marketing gimmick that is a waste of money compared to soap.



Fri May 28, 2010 6:17 am
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Robert Tulip wrote:
You people are trashy. Don Quixote presents deep symbolic human archetypes of human identity - the visionary dreamer, the lazy fool, the indifferent cynic. Shampoo is just a marketing gimmick that is a waste of money compared to soap.


I am not trashy! I was just pointing out that some shampoo bottles have interesting tidbits on them and trying to make a joke. I agree that Cervantes presents many of the story archetypes we now know very well, but that doesn't mean we can't understand that and poke some fun at a book that, for many of us, is outdated and hard to read. We mean no offense, Robert, and are not suggesting that this book wasn't innovative, we were just having a bit of fun, and remember that just because it is a classic and was innovative, doesn't mean it will be enjoyable to everyone, then or now. As they say, "There's no accounting for taste."



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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
This is an amusing conversation about Cervantes’ readability and shampoo bottles. I think shampoo bottles are a good icon of our times, they tell us a lot about ourselves. Maybe they could be stretched to religious icon? I know Monty Python references have been done before in this discussion, but please excuse one more. Monty Python had fun with religious iconic objects in the Life of Brian with 2 common objects of the time, the gourd and the sandal. Brian runs away from the hysterical mob who believe he is the messiah and they begin to worship and idolize the gourd and sandal he drops along the way, convinced that these are signs from God. So, in our time, what better ubiquitous object to drop along the way than the shampoo bottle? Makes me think of the Gods Must be Crazy.

Shampoo bottles aside, I think DQ is readable but I am reading in a particular way, a slow food way, wandering through the book slowly like DQ and Sancho wander through their adventures. It doesn’t matter to me if I ever finish the book. Actually, I know I won’t. I can see some interesting, possible meanings to his work that go beyond repetitive, comedic episodes, some of which have been discussed here, and that is good enough for me. And really, this book has been around for 400 years and studied to death, so could all those scholars and readers be wrong?



Fri May 28, 2010 3:22 pm
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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
bleachededen wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
You people are trashy. Don Quixote presents deep symbolic human archetypes of human identity - the visionary dreamer, the lazy fool, the indifferent cynic. Shampoo is just a marketing gimmick that is a waste of money compared to soap.


I am not trashy! I was just pointing out that some shampoo bottles have interesting tidbits on them and trying to make a joke. I agree that Cervantes presents many of the story archetypes we now know very well, but that doesn't mean we can't understand that and poke some fun at a book that, for many of us, is outdated and hard to read. We mean no offense, Robert, and are not suggesting that this book wasn't innovative, we were just having a bit of fun, and remember that just because it is a classic and was innovative, doesn't mean it will be enjoyable to everyone, then or now. As they say, "There's no accounting for taste."


And equally, I can poke fun at anyone with the temerity to criticise the peerless summit of knight errantry. Don Quixote only gets better. I think if you don't enjoy it you should stop reading, as that is a sign that perhaps you are missing something, have other things on your mind, and may be better waiting until later. I completely disagree that Don Quixote is outdated. It stands at the hinge point between the medieval world of Christendom and the modern world of capitalism, in a location where the multicultural problem of interfaith relations between Christianity and Islam was a pressing political priority. The critique of both old and new remains totally relevant in the modern world. The cynics who condemn Don Quixote as a fool do not see, in the words of the Psalmist, that without vision the people perish. Don Quixote's vision may be wrong, but there is gold among the dross. As his near contemporary Kepler said, we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater. There! I have mashed almost as many cliches into one paragraph as Sancho Panza! I will have to start a new thread on the proverbs of the lazy fool, peace be upon him.

Just on Monty Python, I am growing more convinced that those Cambridge loons pilfered their best ideas from Cervantes. Towards the end of the book, in the restaurant at the end of the universe, we find the very model and source for the cheese shop.



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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Robert Tulip wrote:
Just on Monty Python, I am growing more convinced that those Cambridge loons pilfered their best ideas from Cervantes. Towards the end of the book, in the restaurant at the end of the universe, we find the very model and source for the cheese shop.


I believe you're confusing Monty Python with Douglas Adams here. I'm aware that Adams did a few guest writing spots with the Pythons, but he wasn't a member, and I wouldn't lump them all together. I can also clearly see other influences in their works, and wouldn't start accusing them of pilfering too much Cervantes just yet. For example, while you can clearly see elements of Don Quixote in The Holy Grail, you can also see that until the charge by God to search for the grail, the film is very obviously parodying Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, from the beginning credits (with Swedish subtitles to drive the parody even further home), to the monks beating themselves in imitation of a similar scene in The Seventh Seal, to the burning of the witch. These were not Cervantes' images, and given the status of Bergman and The Seventh Seal in the film culture of the 1960s and 70s, that is clearly their primary parody source. Most people who watch it now don't even know this, because Bergman fans in this day and age are few and far between. Cervantes also said nothing about dead parrots or old loan clerks becoming pirates and attacking newer and bigger corporations, so it's safe to say the Pythons had plenty of their own ideas to work with, as well as anything or anyone they obviously parodied.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Don Quixote only gets better. I think if you don't enjoy it you should stop reading, as that is a sign that perhaps you are missing something, have other things on your mind, and may be better waiting until later.


I finished the book, and no, it did not get any better. I did not have anything else on my mind, and I didn't miss anything. I simply didn't like it.

I think you're taking this a bit too hard, Robert. That doesn't mean it isn't still an important piece of literature, or that you can't stand by it and like it as much as you want. But I, along with everyone else here, am entitled to my own opinion about the book, and just because yours happens to be in the minority here doesn't give you the right to criticize our reading habits or reading comprehension just because we disagree. You're sounding a bit like Stahrwe, I'm sad to say, and I think maybe you should take a step back and look at this topic a bit more objectively. None of us are attacking Cervantes or Don Quixote, we just don't particularly like the book. And there's nothing whatsoever wrong with that.



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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
The passion Robert shows for the book is okay, and I can understand that it's hard when a passion isn't shared. But Eden is right, ultimately we're judging art, not appreciating intellectual history as Robert wants us to. So "liking" (or not) comes into play inevitably, and what we do about this? We can, I suppose, delve more deeply into this liking (or not), and maybe when we do we confront certain expectations we've come to have of the novel, expectations that probably aren't met by Don Quixote, in my opinion. The book has the rawness of a proto-form; it has an energy, certainly, and looks forward to more enticing possibilities.

Just look at the composition history of the book for clues. Cervantes writes his book, lays down his pen for a while, and, lo, some other guy comes out with a knock-off. Cervantes has to give this parvenu what-for, so he pens a second part to give the people more adventures of the type that have, surprisingly to him, proven so popular. He has to make a living, after all. There is little impulse toward the organic form of the novel in this story of supply and demand. That was the state of things, fiction-wise, in 1605.


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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
bleachededen wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Just on Monty Python, I am growing more convinced that those Cambridge loons pilfered their best ideas from Cervantes. Towards the end of the book, in the restaurant at the end of the universe, we find the very model and source for the cheese shop.


I believe you're confusing Monty Python with Douglas Adams here. I'm aware that Adams did a few guest writing spots with the Pythons, but he wasn't a member, and I wouldn't lump them all together.
Hello again Bleachededen, this is after all a rather light-hearted conversation about a book of comedy and farce, that conceals a serious social satire. However, I do try to be precise in my comments. My allusion to Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was deliberately intended to mash together the myths. When you get to this restaurant farce that reminded me of the cheese shop, it feels like you are at the end of the universe, since Don Quixote is so long (if not tortuously boring) to read.
Quote:
I can also clearly see other influences in their works, and wouldn't start accusing them of pilfering too much Cervantes just yet.
As Sancho Panza said, lesser talents borrow, genius steals. The Black Knight, King Arthur and the cheese shop show definite influence (theft) from Cervantes.
Quote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Don Quixote only gets better. I think if you don't enjoy it you should stop reading, as that is a sign that perhaps you are missing something, have other things on your mind, and may be better waiting until later.

I finished the book, and no, it did not get any better. I did not have anything else on my mind, and I didn't miss anything. I simply didn't like it. I think you're taking this a bit too hard, Robert. That doesn't mean it isn't still an important piece of literature, or that you can't stand by it and like it as much as you want. But I, along with everyone else here, am entitled to my own opinion about the book, and just because yours happens to be in the minority here doesn't give you the right to criticize our reading habits or reading comprehension just because we disagree. You're sounding a bit like Stahrwe, I'm sad to say, and I think maybe you should take a step back and look at this topic a bit more objectively. None of us are attacking Cervantes or Don Quixote, we just don't particularly like the book. And there's nothing whatsoever wrong with that.

Objectively? As I mentioned to DWill, Don Quixote was ranked the best novel ever in a recent survey of the world's leading novelists. So, yes, it does slightly perturb me to see terms such as 'unreadable' etc thrown around. I do think, just my personal opinion here, there is something wrong with people not liking Don Quixote, as they are missing something in a great and enduring classic of modern literature. I just can't understand why anyone would not get the satire. When I use terms like 'peerless' I am echoing Cervantes' irony in his continual description of the story as a true history, and his continual description of Dulcinea as peerless. I thought you were wrong in calling the duke and duchess cruel, for example. You are welcome to your opinion, but it is something interesting to work through. Please though, don't start throwing in ad homs about creationist idiocy. In all seriousness, there is a big difference between arguing that Don Quixote is a good book and arguing the universe is six thousand years old.



Last edited by Robert Tulip on Fri May 28, 2010 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Robert, I appreciate your passion and your attachment to this novel, but I also think you're mistaking "do not like" with "do not get." I "get" the satire and the criticism Cervantes is making about the issues of his day that he did not like or thought were ridiculous. I "get" it. But that does not mean that I "like" the novel. I appreciate what Cervantes has written and that he was innovative and deserves a spot on the classics and books to read before you die shelf. I do. I learned a lot from Don Quixote, and I am in no way saying that the experience was a total waste. What I am saying is that even though I get what is taking place in the novel, and appreciate its place in history, and have learned from the experience of reading it, I did not like the book, overall, and am glad to be finished with it and will not read it again. That does not mean I don't get it. I just don't like it. Completely different sentiments.

And I apologize for the Stahrwe comment. I just wanted you to consider the voice you are putting forth to us who aren't in DQ's fan club, and that just because we don't like a book doesn't mean there is something wrong with us. That is something someone like Stahrwe would suggest, and I think you are better than that.



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Post Re: Is Don Quixote Unreadable?
Robert Tulip wrote:
So, yes, it does slightly perturb me to see terms such as 'unreadable' etc thrown around. I do think, just my personal opinion here, there is something wrong with people not liking Don Quixote, as they are missing something in a great and enduring classic of modern literature.


When I first read this comment, it upset me, but a few minutes later, I got over it. I have been reading this book for months, a classic that has survived for 400 years, and I am not enjoying it, but, I never once thought there was something wrong with me for this, except for the few minutes after reading the above comment. Robert, I have always enjoyed your commentary and insight regarding books, and I thought this commentary and insight would carry me through DQ, however, the book is just flat out boring, TO ME! I would never say to a reader, or group of readers that there is something wrong with them for not enjoying, or not “getting” a book that I myself have enjoyed and found entertaining and interesting. Literature as well as all art is subjective. I personally don’t understand readers that enjoy books of fantasy, but instead of saying there is something wrong with them, I’m trying to read more fantasy books to understand what all the hype is about. Some books I like, some I don’t, there is nothing wrong with me, and there is nothing wrong with the books.

“The Crying of Lot 49”, Thomas Pynchon is one of my favorite books of all time, but most people find it unreadable. I spent a summer reading “Gravity’s Rainbow”, Thomas Pynchon, its long, its arduous, its difficult, but to ME, highly readable and highly enjoyable. I am in the minority regarding Thomas Pynchon, I enjoy his writing, however, there is nothing WRONG with the reader who disagrees with me.

Am I missing something in DQ? Very likely, frankly, I’m finding the foot notes more interesting than the work itself. I must be missing something, the novel has survived for 400 years. However, what I am missing, Robert, may not be as important for me as it is seemingly to be for you. But, this is how art works.

Don Quixote may have gotten the better of you Robert. There is nothing WRONG with me, or any other reader who dislikes it.



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