I never thought I’d say this about a classic, but I should have bought the Cliffs Notes.
I have just finished listening to the most boring book I’ve ever read. In its introduction by author and Yale professor of humanities Harold Bloom. I am told the book “is a mirror held up not to nature, but to the reader.” Oh, dear.
Yet, on lists of “Top 100 Books of All Time” and “Top 100 Classics,” this one ranks near the top - widely regarded as the first modern novel and described as one of the funniest and most tragic books ever written. One hundred of the world’s writers of modern fiction declared it the best fiction ever written.
The first part of the book does contain two novellas, which are quite entertaining and would have stood alone.
A word meaning “idealistic and urealistic about practical matters” was introduced to the English language as a result of the main character's adventures.
And, everyone thinks it’s clever to talk about “tilting at windmills.”
I’d love to see a survey of how many people actually finished this classic.
The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. English translation by Edith Grossman.
Dr. Grossman, whose 2003 translation has been highly praised, says Cervantes’ writing “gives off sparks and flows like honey.” “If my translation works at all,” she writes, “the reader should keep turning the pages, smiling a good deal, periodically bursting into laughter and impatiently waiting for the next synonym, the next mind-bending coincidence, the next variation on the structure of Don Quixote’s adventures, the next incomparable conversation between the knight and his squire.”
She tells me if I did not find the work “compelling” and “amusing,” the fault is hers. I honestly do not know if the problem lies with her, with me or with the writer, but the Library of Congress annotation tells me, “Unless you read Spanish you’ve never read Don Quixote.”
Ah, but I finished it before it finished me.
I am glad to be free of your prison, Cervantes, you Enchanter!