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Friday, November 15, 2013

Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes

Between AP English and Spanish class, I read a hefty chunk of this tome in High School. Reading the entire novel has been on my to-do list for years, but I didn't get started on it until earlier this year. I also went through a couple of translations before I found one that I liked.

Don Quixote is an elderly gentleman who, after filling his head with too many books on chivalry, decides he will go out on his own conquest to become a knight errant. He recruits a townsman named Sancho Panza, who foolishly decides to follow Don Quixote on his misadventures and agrees to become his squire after receiving the promise of becoming a governor.

Don Quixote's wild imagination causes him to think that windmills are giants, inns are castles (which should gladly house and feed him without charge because of his occupation), and that ladies are all damsels in need of his help. At first people are merely annoyed by his fanciful adventures and some even give him a good thrashing when he doesn't act in accordance with modern convention. Even after these incidents, Don Quixote doesn't give up on his dream. His exploits only become worse, as he sets free prisoners who claim false imprisonment, attempts to set free his lady Dulcinea from enchantment (whom he sees in faces all around), and challenges peasants to battle who are minding their own business. At some point, word of this lunatic gets out and nobles decide to have their fun at the expense of the knight and his squire.

Reading the entire piece is a chore, but when viewed as a series of exploits it becomes more amusing. I'd recommend reading this in bits and pieces, rather than as a novel.

Recommended Reads:
Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure - William Goldman

Recommended Views:
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Adventures of Baron Manchausen
A Beautiful Mind

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