Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why Do You Like Don Quijote?

A student from Serbia whose name is Marija is asking those of us who have read Don Quijote to share why we like this book. I provided my answer here. Please help Marija out and share why you like this great novel in the comment section of this post.

Thank you!

16 comments:

sarcozona said...

I've never read Don Quijote - all I know of the story I learned from Wishbone. Is there a particular English translation you'd recommend?

Jam said...

I haven't read it, but I have a friend who has and I've linked it to her. :D

Clarissa said...

This translation by Edith Grossman is the most recent and extremely good:

http://www.amazon.com/Don-Quixote-Miguel-Cervantes/dp/0060934344/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297788823&sr=8-1

el said...

This comment isn't connected with the post, so it probably shouldn't be shown, but I just read this, was horrified and wanted to share with you.

http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/south_dakota_legislators_move_to_legalize_some_terrorism_and_domestic_viole/

May be you'll write a post about it and more people living there will become aware and protest.

Clarissa said...

Yes, I was just about to write about this. Thanks, el!

eric said...

From what I understand, a major theme in Don Quixote is the transition from the Medieval world to Modernity, with Cervantes satirizing the former. Come to think of it, el's comment above is strangely relevant!

Clarissa said...

Actually, eric, you are completely right. Some people still haven't been able to accept modernity. And just to think that we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the publication of Don Quijote's Part I a few years ago.

Leah Jane said...

There's something lovably timeless about the fact that Don Quixote in that he never learns his lesson. Maybe I'm just a sucker for that type of deluded thinker, but it makes for fun reading.

Maria said...

I guess I'm not going to say anything new or groundbreaking here: I like the following your dreams aspect, no matter how crazy others find them.

Jonathan said...

There are many reasons to love this book. It is the beginning of metafiction: the novel conscious of itself and its own processes. Without this book, we wouldn't have Tristam Shandy, Obabakoak, When on a Winter Night a Traveler, Niebla, At Swim Two Birds, and many of my other favorite novels.

It is very funny and intellectually complex. It is a satire of a medieval world view, as noted above, but also a satire of modernity itself. After all, the ignobility of the modern world is nothing to brag about. The book does not allow you a single perspective. The books that D. Q. read and which drove him to madness are ridiculous, but represent noble sentiments.

It is a repository of popular sayings or refranes.

Cervantes is not afraid of cruelty. He exposes it and even engages in it himself. The dynamic between compassion and cruelty is very interesting to study. The book itself is open to multiple readings. For many years, it was considered merely a satire, but the so-called romantic reading exposed another side to the story.

Don Q. and Sancho are enduring archetypes. It is not an easy thing to create characters that resonate throughout time. Even people who haven't read the book know and recognize the archetypes. Borges argues that Quevedo is a great writer, a great stylist, but one who never created an archetype of this sort.

I could probably go on, but I'd rather let others tell us their reasons.

Pen said...

Ack! In my lack of sleep, I didn't read the last part of the post, and commented on the other post (the one you linked to). Is there some way I can copy-paste my other response? It's a bit long for me to write again.

Clarissa said...

I think you can definitely copy-paste. But it looks good in that thread too. Or it can appear in both threads. :-)

Rachelle said...

I'm in my second semester-long class centered around Don Quijote -- and this time it was a choice, not a requirement of my Spanish major. The reason I return to it so happily is because there's just so much in this book. As an earlier commenter said, the book is the epitome of metafiction. The layers of narration are dizzying and basically destroy the textual authority that most books around that time and long before were interested in proving. That's part of its satire, and it also goes on to satirize the chivalric literature and pastoral novels, while simultaneously satirizing the treatment of Muslims in Spain at the time, the treatment of women, etc. etc.

There's just SO MUCH in this book that it's hard to imagine it was written by one person. Cervantes is an incredibly skilled writer to be able to put together all the components that you see in Quijote. Even the chapter titles are a construct -- sometimes what the title says about the chapter is completely wrong.

And, I mean, it's the start of the modern novel, and it's hilariously funny and rich in detail while being incredibly smart, sharp, and savvy at the same time. How could you not love El Quijote? ;)

sarcozona said...

Thanks for the translation recommendation, Clarissa! After all the interesting comments here, I'm really looking forward to reading it!

Clarissa said...

If you have any questions about the cultural realities, historic background, literary references or anything, feel free to ask.

Marija said...

Thank you all! And thank you Clarissa for helping me!
I really appreciate your opinions. There are things I didn't know or just didn't notice while reading the book, so, besides helping me do my task (finding people's impressions about Don Quijote) you had helped me discover a new side of this great book.
Once again, thanks a lot!