Don Quixote

Reply Mon 20 Oct, 2008 02:07 pm
Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes
ISBN: 0-19-283483-5
Publisher: Oxford University Press

OVERVIEW: Very few, who've heard or know anything about classic literature, have not heard about this book. In a word, this book is charming. It will make you laugh, it will confuse you and it will elicit strong feelings of empathy and identification of our scatter-brained hero. Originally published in 1605, this is a very large book (944 pages, paperback at small print) and I think that scares a lot of folks away; but its' worth it. It comes in two parts and is, in a nutshell: a charming story of someone who's dared to dream and follow that dream, no matter what absurd others say or do. Our hero believes he's a knight whose calling is to adventure through the world (read: Spain) with Sancho Panza by his side and earn the love and adoration of a lady of, "... the greatest repute". Within this context, there are virtually no limits to what one might encounter; hassles with townships, brigands, innkeepers, hermits, "Moors" and much more.


  • Enthralling: Very detailed and relaxingly sarcastic, Cervantes is very detailed - painting a nice picture for those not in a hurry
  • Charming: No matter how silly you think Don Quixote is, you'll hurt when he's teased and secretly cheer for him to win
  • There's a good bit of subtle (and not-so-subtle) insights into the cruelties folks will inflict when they, "... smell blood"
  • Cervantes is also very descriptive of the world in which he lived. One can almost taste what it's like to live in the 17th century.
  • Humorous: There are parts that are (not coincidentally enough) much like Monty Python's The Holy Grail, where two idiots clapping coconuts decide to set out on their quests. This kind of humor pervades the entire work.
  • Philosophical: Through conversations, professions of truth, arguments and general dialog folks speak their mind about just about everything. Lots of tid-bits of lunacy and genius to be had.


  • Its a very, very long book; and took me more than a month to read. Taken off in little bites; however, it's quite manageable
  • The reader will find a good number of subplots that are... well... quite obscure and seemingly have no connection to the story-at-hand. This, of course, may be my inability to draw such correlation.
  • Extreme notions of chivalry, medieval christianity and derogatory terms for various other nationalities were used; one is well advised to take any offenses as being part of the 17th century Europe.
  • Effusive: There are some sections in this book where a single conversation - yes, even a single quite within - can last several pages. One wonders if anyone took breaths back then. Once again, read in small bits with a steady flow helps mitigate this.

HIGHLIGHTS: (abbreviated)

  • Quixote, with lance in hand, charges the giant (windmill, actually) (pp 59)
  • Sancho gets the infamous "time heals all wounds" speach (pp 108)
  • Chivalrous Adoration of the Femme; Quixote preaches (see quote 1 below) (pp 287)
  • Wedding of Camacho the Rich (pp 593)
  • Cold reality of fortune and virtue (pp 607)
  • Gratitude, free of Obligations (see quote 2 below) (pp 839)
  • The realization of fortune and fame in reality (pp 899)


[INDENT] 1. "Consider, friend, that woman is an imperfect creature, and that one should not lay stumbling blocks in her way to make her trip and fall, but rather remove them and clear the way before her, that should may without hindrance advance towards her proper perfection which consists in being virtuous... The good woman is to be looked after and prized, like a fine garden full of roses and other flowers, the owner of which suffers nobody to walk among them or touch anything, but only at a distance, and through iron rails, to enjoy its fragrance and beauty".
[/INDENT][INDENT] 2. "For the obligations of returning benefits and favours received, are ties which obstruct the free agency of the mind. Happy the man, to whom heaven has given a morsel of bread, without laying him under the obligation of thanking any other for it than heaven itself".[/INDENT]
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Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2008 04:08 am
Published in two volumes a decade apart, Don Quixote is the most influential work of literature to emerge from the Spanish Golden Age and perhaps the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work of modern Western literature, it regularly appears at the top of lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published.
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Reply Thu 23 Oct, 2008 10:44 pm
Excellent review! Kethil, that format is fantastic! This format is something we should look at implementing on all reviews.
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