Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Gustave Doré: Don Quijote de La Mancha
and Sancho Panza, 1863

Alonso Quijano, an aging country landlord, after reading too many books about chivarly, announces himself Don Quijote the la Mancha, the knight errant. He chooses for his lady love an unaware of anything country girl, Aldonza Lorenzo whom he entitles the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso, a princess in whose name he's going to undertake every defiances. Together with a country man of the name Sancho Pança, his squire, deluded with promises of riches and an island to govern, they set out on a journey full of adventures and imaginations. They meet all kinds of people on their way to whom Don Quijote appears as a madman, though an educated one, that talks with sense in between the ilussions of chivalrous world. And Sancho Panca a naive, simple and hilarious companion of his, that casts proverbs not always matching the situation.

I read Don Quijote for a looong time. I made a mistake to do it in English. I normally don't have problems with books in English, not even with the 'older' style but I must admit I had some troubles with this one. The small font put me off a little too. And it's a huge book. Plus I read other books along with this one. All these reasons resulted that I read about the adventures of the famous knight for so long. Finally, I finished it... well, I thought that when this day comes, it'll be "finally" but I actually feel it's a pity it ended already. Because I am totally enchanted with the characters of Don Quijote and Sancho Pança. I liked them more and more with each page. After first chapters it seemed like a hilarious story about a madman in an armour and a naive fool on an ass. But then it turned out a story about a dreamer who follows his dream and an adventurer who catches the occasion. I don't even believe Don Quijote was mad. He was crazy, his dream was hopeless but isn't it the crazy ones that make their dreams come true?  I don't believe Sancho wanted the money and reign. He wanted adventure although he maybe didn't even realise it himself. Both characters are so complex that I think everyone can see them differently. There's so much to be found in this book: the overview of Spanish society at the turn of 16th and 17th century, the satire of famous then books about knight errantry... but it's definitely not overdue as there can be found universal values as well. That's not only an adventurous story but a story about friendship and human nature and the pursuit of unattainable in spite of everyone.

I'd love to recommend this book but I already see that you can either love it or hate it. You can either be bored with it to death or enchanted. You can either take the man and his master for a fool and a madman or see something more in them.

As for myself, I fell in love with Don Quijote and Sancho. They left in my heart warm feeling and melancholy and I already miss them dearly. I am sure I'll get back to them, next time in my native language as I'm afraid I didn't catch all of Sancho's proverbs.


  1. Oh yes, you are absolutely right about being crazy and pursuing dreams ^.^ It is wonderful, so why give up on that?
    Your description almost makes me feel like reading it, but I'm no fan of big fat books and my friend is STILL struggling with that book now, I believe she should have finished it last term or so *.* But glad that it turned out as such a good read for you ^^

  2. You can either love it or hate, maybe she's the first case;)

  3. I have the same experience with The Scarlet Letter which took me so long to finish. It was quite dragging in the middle and I find it really hard to understand the culture of that time. However, I managed to finish it and surprisingly I like it towards the end of my reading.

  4. There are some books you read slow but it doesn't disturb in loving them:)