My January Reading Plans: Part 1

Don Quixote

I began my reading year 2014 with Roberto Bolano’s 2666It didn’t bode well for me. I read only the first three parts, about halfway, before laying it down. (As I did with The Savage Detectives in 2012.) It’s therefore ironic that I am beginning my reading for 2015 with another book of Spanish translation: Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. I am relying on Richard to accompany me on this path, for it is his invitation which I have accepted, and I wonder how well I’d fare alone.

don-quixote by Dali

But, Don Quixote has been on my Classics Club list since I first formed it three years ago. The art alone which this novel has inspired is quite thrilling. Above is a painting by Salvador Dali; below is a painting by Honore Daumier.

Honoré_Daumier_017_(Don_Quixote)

Harold Bloom calls Don Quixote the Spanish Bible, and says “it stands for ever as the birth of the novel out of the prose romance, and is still the best of all novels.” The best? Ever?

Don Quixote is a man I’ve heard about my whole life, how could I not discover him through the novel first hand? And so, I’m venturing forth into his world and hope to experience this masterpiece with great appreciation in January. I know Richard would welcome you to join us as well.

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8 thoughts on “My January Reading Plans: Part 1

  1. You are much braver than I am in tackling this. I didn’t have a great success with Spanish writers this year either – gave up on Javier Marias and Enrique Vila-Matas.

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    • I don’t know why they’re so difficult for me to like! I did enjoy Javier Marias’ The Infatuations very much last winter, but there isn’t a single Spanish author I can say I’m crazy about. Not like Russian or Japanese authors for whom I’d have a terrible time picking my top three from either language.

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  2. Good luck! I read this a few years ago for my challenge and I’m pretty sure it’s the book that took me the longest to-date. Not that it was a tough read… just that I started to HATE Quixote and had a hard time forcing myself to pick it back up.

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    • I must admit to already being a bit perplexed…I’ve only read the first five chapters or so, but I always assumed Quixote was a person to look up to, a knight of exceptional ability. i didn’t know he was practically a buffoon, a man who’d lost his mind due to too many books, a man who could interpret windmills as giants. Is this mockery of knights in general, or Don Quixote in particular? I’m not quite sure, but I can see why you would scorn (or hate) the character after awhile.

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  3. “[B]est of all novels” is a reasonable opinion. “Greatest of all novels,” in the sense of the extraordinary later books it inspired, now that is close to indisputable.

    The answer to your mockery question: mockery of knights and Quixote, with two caveats. First, that most modern readers end up pitying Quixote – hate is a surprising reaction, but perhaps the commenter means the book, not the character? – especially as Book 2 progresses; second, not actual knights, since in 1605 there are no such things, but fictional knights, knights from fantasy novels. Plus, there is a lot more mockery: peasants, priests, the nobility, innkeepers, novelists, etc.

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    • I’m glad, as always, for your input, Tom. I can easily see myself pitying Quixote, even though I’ve only barely begun his story. (I’m trying to finish Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels before they’re due back at the library.) It’s good to know that the mockery is intentional. I’m not sure where I picked up the idea that Don Quixote was so noble?

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