Miguel Cervantes – Don Quijote

Original title: Don Quijote
Swedish title: Don Quijote
English title: Don Quixote
Author: Miguel Cervantes
Translator:Eva Mazetti-Nissen
Year: 1605, 1615

Don Quijote by Miguel Cervantes is considered to be one of the most important cornernstones of modern fiction and should as such be interesting for at least historical purposes. It’s a story most people already know (even though they haven’t read the book)  about a gentleman named Don Quijote and his adventures as a knight-errant. He has read to many romantic stories of chivalry, and, believing every word of them to be true, sets out to right wrongs and make the world a better and safer place. However, his delusions make his attempt doomed to failure from the very start, exaggerating problems where he can find them and creating trouble where all was calm before he and his loyal friend Sancho Panza came along.

In most regards, Don Quijote is a remarkable and enjoyable tale, fast-paced and without needless dwelling on detail. The portraits of the characters are perhaps the most memorable part of Cervantes authorship. The two sections of the book (one published in 1605 and the other in 1615) are somewhat different, though, the latter being a lot better. In the first half, the adventures are sometimes almost identical (they arrive to a peaceful place, Don Quijote finds some reason to attack people/cattle/things and stirs up some problem and they get beaten up, repeat), which bores me very quickly. The second part is less repetitive and also a bit profounder in that it further explores the theme of deception and delusions constantly swirling like dense fog around the knight and his friend.

This book was on the whole agreeable, but not extraordinary. The characters are interesting, the language suitable and the story reasonable well told. The biggest problem is the repetitions of almost identical adventures and the lack of anything beyond that (even though this can be sensed later in the novel). Totted up, these loose opinions is enough to merit Miguel Cervantes three and a half snails.

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  1. Kalle’s avatar

    For me, the quintessential episode from this novel is the one where Don Quixote decides to stay in the mountains and go crazy over his absent lady Dulcinea. The madman, deciding — rationally planning — to play the role of a madman, thus short-circuiting the two levels of madness, the real and the feigned, and juxtaposing the idea of madness as the simple failure to see truth, and madness as the radical gesture of founding, of positing the meaningful world we inhabit.

    That episode alone makes me forgive Cervantes for all those endless tall tales about pirates and goat herds and whatnot.

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  2. Olle Linge’s avatar

    Yeah, I agree, that’s a good one. Deliberately trying to go insane is quite interesting in general, but it becomes something special in this case. I think the good bits in this novel are really good, so with all probability, I will remember this book more fondly in a while, when I’ve forgotten the truly dull parts. Thanks for bringing up this gem, though. :)

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