It would be difficult to write an amusing blog about mass suicide so I won’t even try. Here lies my review of Don Quixote.
I remember Sir Edward Hillary’s words when asked why he wanted to climb Everest naked, “Because it’s there.” I won’t patronise you with the same excuse and, after all, look what happened to him. Who wants to die of a ripe old age? No sir.
No doubt Don Quixote is long. It’s like Harry Potter grew old and got loquacious. And good. And funny.
Nick Hornby in The Polysyllabic Spree pointed out that reviews often hide how we read. I read a lot but Quixote took me a long time. My reading time is first thing in the morning in bed with a cup of tea, or last thing at night after a glass of wine, or during my breaks at work (45 minutes - iPod in, book out).
Long gone are the summers when I would lie in the garden day after day eating books. I read Anna Karenina and The Lord of the Rings in a week (although not the same one). I don’t read as much as I used to. These days when I am up and about the computer is on and I am working on my own writing, surfing the net, drinking tea and coffee, just having a quick look....
And so on.
But I wanted to read Don Quixote, it was my dad’s favourite book and I saw rave reviews of a new translation so I bought in.
I thought it would be a bit of a struggle. After all Don Quixote, comprised of two novels, was written about 400 years ago. This was the time of Shakespeare although Cervantes wouldn’t have heard of him.
Cervantes own life was this - in 1571 he fought with the Spanish against the Turks where his hand was crippled. He spent years at sea, then was captured by Barbary pirates and spent years in captivity. He was ransomed by his family, sent back to Madrid where he found himself in debtors prison. He started to write Don Quixote.
Don Quixote is a funny book. I mean laugh out loud funny. Sometimes at work I would unplug my iPod and read out a scene. Admittedly Drew does Quixote wasn’t that funny. It is funny ironic, funny slapstick, funny base, funny absurd.
I love it when they go to see the hermit and find that he is out. The hermit’s assistant is there.
It also has the two greatest characters - Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Don Quixote is mad, everyone knows that. But he is only mad when it comes to chivalry. About everything else he is wise and kind and sweet. Sancho is the most loyal squire you could wish to have.
At one point in the second novel Sancho becomes governor of an insula. I just wanted him to get back with Quixote. When he falls down a pit, through a tunnel, and ends up in a hole under where Quixote is practising jousting I almost clapped my hands.
Don Quixote is also described as the first modern novel. It is.
Part two of Don Quixote’s adventures were written ten years after the first. Cervantes had become aware that someone had written a false Quixote book. He wanted to set the record straight.
In part two nearly everyone Quixote meets has read part one of his adventures. After all he is a knight and it is right to him that his deeds have been recorded. The book is written by an Arab who was purchased fragments of his adventures and then pieced them together writing in Arabic. The book itself is narrated by the translator, who is the authorial voice, commenting on the translation as he writes it.
Don Quixote then comes across the false book about himself and deliberately tries to have different adventures to prove that it isn’t true. At one point he even meets someone who states he knows well the fictional knight of the fake Quixote and the real Quixote makes him go to a judge to swear that he is the real one.
Although of course he is a character in a book.
It’s good. Read it.
Currently reading - When the Nines Roll Over, David Benioff
Currently listening to - Goldfrapp - A&E