Book Review : Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

3836Title : Don Quixote

Author : Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Publisher : Penguin Classics

Release date : February 5th, 2003

Rating : 2/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances, that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote’s fancy often leads him astray – he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants – Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers’ imaginations for nearly four hundred years.

With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote generally has been recognized as the first modern novel. The book has had enormous influence on a host of writers, from Fielding and Sterne to Flaubert, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner, who reread it once a year, “just as some people read the Bible.”

Review :

I read this book for the sole reason of it being considered by many the first modern book…and that’s it. I didn’t like it, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Why? It was completely ridiculous.

FIRST PART :
The main character, Don Quixote, must surely be schizophrenic, despite the lack of diagnosis. I s2g, he reads some books about knights, and BAM, he starts seeing the world as being part of his books! He challenges innocents, thinking they owe him the utmost respect and/or thinking they’re enemies, imagines a flock of sheep as being an army, hallucinates adventure anywhere. It’s royally absurd! His thinking and reasoning are very clear and precise, but as they say, the content is more important than the container, and clearly the content isn’t well! As soon as something doesn’t seem to fit his delusions, he blames it on an enchantment he’s the victim of.

Sure, the writing befits the era during which it was published, good vocabulary and all, but dang, how I hated the protagonist! He would’ve been chained in an asylum if he lived in our time, such was the danger he represented to anyone he meets!

The other character, Sancho Panza, his squire (smh), is not much better, considering he is his FREAKING SQUIRE. But, at times, he expresses some sane thoughts, which is a relief when you’re 200 pages in the book and all you’ve seen so far is delusions and absurdity.

Here’s some good, though : it’s “funny” sometimes, and there were some parts which I liked. However, I could count them on one hand.

SECOND PART :

Both characters were more likable. Don Quixote, now knowing that his exploits are known worldwide, is less seeking to establish his reputation as a knight errant, and Sancho, who now knows his master is mad but, in the eyes of many, is madder to follow him still, displays a humorous side and takes advantage of Quixote’s blindness to reality to cover up his own mistakes. For example, when he couldn’t find Dulcinea Del Toboso but made her up as having been victim of an enchantment.

What rubbed me off the wrong way was that there are so many people who were so amused by Don Quixote’s madness that they played along, just to have a good laugh. That’s no way to treat a mentally ill person, no matter how well they speak. Don Quixote seems only crazy when the subject of knight errant is brought up, but about other subjects, he’s a very logic and knowledgeable man. He has a heart in the right place and he genuinely believes in all the virtues of a knight errant.

The character development of the two protagonists was well handled. I was pleasantly surprised. You see how Sancho’s attitude toward his master changes.
The dialogues are a bit too long, with a lot of sentence flourishing and unnecessary ranting. I admit I skipped some parts because they were just too long. I’m not saying they aren’t useful to the plot; after all, the plot is only about Don Quixote’s adventures, which encompass everything that’s in the book.

CONCLUSION :
The individuality of Cervantes’ characters is remarkable. Everyone has a distinct personality & there are well-made character developments. Especially in the 2nd part.

It’s interesting to see how the characters themselves react to knowing they’re being written about. The book is a nice exploration of narration, I’ll grant it that.

It does distinguish itself from other knightly tales, though, as the protagonists are not all that dignified. They fall, and get beaten, and relieve their..natural needs. They’re pretty much “real” people in their adventures, except of course for their insanity.

Anyway, stay clear of this book, unless you’re curious about its reputation, like I was. I really didn’t like it.

 

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