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Don Quixote Paperback – 28 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 986 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Brown (28 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1613820178
  • ISBN-13: 978-1613820179
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 5.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 577,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. Read the first page
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Mar 2007
Format: Paperback
When a book is generally considered to be not only the first but the best novel of all time, there's not a whole lot to add to the conversation. About the only thing to comment on is whether or not the story is of interest to a modern audience. And of course, the answer is "maybe". Here are three things to think about:

It's very long. The two parts (originally published about a decade apart), are about 500 pages each. If that's daunting, the good news is that one can read just about any chapter at random and have a pretty good sense of whether or not one will like the entire work. Moreover, it's a work that lends itself to episodic reading. It's full of self-contained adventures that can be read in a weekend and then one can put the book aside, read something else, and come back to it weeks later with no ill effects.

It's very easy to read. The prose is very very accessible -- at least in this newest translation. The writing is of its era, which is to say at times its long-winded, flowery, mannered, repetitive. It's also surprisingly funny and coarse -- in a Three Stooges and fart jokes kind of way. There are plenty of other surprises, such as stories within stories, and elements of metafiction in part II.

It's enjoyable on several levels. The episodic adventures of the bumbling knight-errant wannabe and his proverb-laden sidekick can be read and enjoyed on a purely surface level. However, there are plenty of layers to be explored by those with a desire to do so. For example, Quixote's quests raise some fairly large questions of faith and idealism, not to mention questions of sanity and reality. There are plenty of social questions to, such as matter of class and religion, and whether or not Cervantes is satirizing the elite and clergy.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Skala on 24 May 2013
Format: Hardcover
How to approach the novel voted as the most influential in the world by a comprehensive survey of international authors? With extreme caution, was my first thought. And my second. My third was, `life is too short'. And my fourth? `Life is too short. So read it!' It's only taken me (insert appropriate numbers of years without revealing age) to follow my own advice.

One can't avoid charges of elitism, literary snobbism, and a certain aestheticism when hefting such a freighted tome from office to subway to bedroom, and back again. People cast a wary eye your way. And who can blame them? My CEO was particularly disgruntled to find it nestling in my bag when a hiccup occurred on a recent P&L re-forecast. And to be honest, there's a small part of you that deliberately courts these charges. I'm reminded of the story of a friend who was reading an Ian McEwan novel and who happened to mention the fact to his grandfather, an esteemed Don of Literature at a suitably esteemed University. The Don snorted derisively and said, `Why are you wasting your time with that trash? The reason classics of literature are called `classic' my boy, is because they are genuinely better in every way than that ... that over-hyped tripe'. This possibly almost defines elitism, no doubt. But I have some sympathy with the crusty Don's view. We avoid classics of literature, to our own cost and impoverishment.

My fear in approaching DQ had to do with the idea that it was, in essence, a very long book with a limited theme (hopeless idealism banging its head repeatedly against reality), spun out ad infinitum. And in truth, it is that. But it's also so much more. What I wasn't prepared for was the shading and sophistication of characterisation embodied by the incomparable Sancho Panza.
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11 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Sep 2005
Format: Hardcover
1575 Cervantes embarked for the umpteenth time (the Spanish king fought with his ships against Arabian kings) in the Mediterranean area, but this time he was captured by a Turkish ship and was brought as a prisoner of war to Algiers, where Cervantes spent five years in dungeon custody. In his novel we can find a fragment, where the hero Don Quijote frees a procession of galley prisoners. This chapter for example had been written with the author's knowledge of his own real time of captivity. For five months Spain's enemies put Cervantes in iron chains to break his will. But Cervantes managed a strike of twenty-five thousand prisoners of war. So Spain's enemies felt glad, when the king of Spain paid a large sum of gold, to set him free. Back in Spain Cervantes wrote his story about Don Quijote and his servant Sancho Panza, the master of doubts. And mainly this is a book about the importance of DOUBT. Cervantes knew: it could be dangerous, to fight as a hero without any doubts - that is his everlasting message. He was the forerunner of all people, who are warning, that individuals, communities or systems sometimes live a complete lie - and therefore will meet their catastrophe in their very end. But Cervantes is giving this message with humor - compare, on the other hand, the serious atmosphere of the elder parts of the bible! The ironic Odyssey of Miguel de Cervantes therefore belongs in the row of the most important cultural products in the story of Old Europe...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 728 reviews
835 of 855 people found the following review helpful
Which New Translation to Choose? 22 Mar 2005
By Philip Haldeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Edith Grossman's is the hot new translation, but there may be a tendency to confer too much praise on a fresh reading. From what I have sampled, I have no doubt of Grossman's excellence, but this is not the "definitive" DQ (no one's is), and frankly, after some comparison of the early chapters, I've decided to spend my time with Burton Raffel's translation, now only a decade old. Raffel sometimes opts for a colloquial word or two, but it's never jarring, and his overall style seems not only less pretentious to me than Grossman's, but a superior combination of a modern reading with a traditional "tone." Tone and style are important, and Raffel sometimes makes Grossman seem too abstract or fussy, though this is difficult to describe. Raffel's phrasing is more focused and vigorous than Grossman's--though both are said to be accurate. Let me offer a couple of examples that shifted me toward Raffel:

Grossman:

"Some claim that his family name was Quixada, or Quexada, for there is a certain amount of disagreement among the authors who write of this matter, although reliable conjecture seems to indicate that his name was Quexana. But this does not matter very much to our story; in its telling there is absolutely no deviation from the truth."

Raffel:

"It's said his family name was Quijada, or maybe Quesada: there's some disagreement among the writers who've discussed the matter. But more than likely his name was really Quejana. Not that this makes much difference in our story; it's just important to tell things as faithfully as you can."

(Notice how Raffel makes immediately clear in the last sentence what Grossman so literally translates.)

Grossman:

"His fantasy filled with everything he had read in his books, enchantments as well as combats, battles, challenges, wounds, courtings, loves, torments, and other impossible foolishness, and he became so convinced in his imagination of the truth of all the countless grandiloquent and false inventions he read that for him no history in the world was truer. He would say that El Cid Ruy Diaz had been a very good knight but could not compare to Amadis, the Knight of the Blazing Sword, who with a single backstroke cut two ferocious and colossal giants in half."

Raffel:

"He filled his imagination full to bursting with everything he read in his books, from witchcraft to duels, battles, challenges, wounds, flirtations, love affairs, anguish, and impossible foolishness, packing it all so firmly into his head that these sensational schemes and dreams became the literal truth and, as far as he was concerned, there were no more certain histories anywhere on earth. He'd explain that Cid Ruy Diaz had been a very good knight, but simply couldn't be compared to the Knight of the Flaming Sword, who with one backhand stroke had cut in half two huge, fierce giants."

Notice that Grossman is rather fussy-sounding in the phrase: "countless grandiloquent and false inventions he read that for him no history in the world was truer." Compare with Raffel, who always seems to solve little problems like this with charm, precision, and even a little wry swagger that's so appropriate to Cervantes' intent. So my advice is to seek out both of these new translations and spend a little time with each before deciding. Don't take others' opinions that Grossman's has superseded Raffel's. Grossman avoids some of the more colloquial English one may find in Raffel, and this may please snobs, but the accuracy of Raffel's translation is not in question, and overall he seems to me to have done the best job.
439 of 454 people found the following review helpful
Faulkner's Favorite 4 Nov 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Faulkner said Don Quixote was his favorite book and that, along with The Bible, he dipped into it yearly. I'm not sure what Cervantes would have made of some of Faulkner's more troublesome work, but the world has designated Don Quixote the Father of the Modern Novel and perhaps the greatest novel ever. I'm a fan of this book and a habitual (some would say neurotic) comparer of translations. Since I don't read of speak Spanish, I have to rely on the English translations that have been published. There are three that are worthwhile: Ormsby's, Samuel Putnam's and now Edith Grossman's. Grossman, who is the translator of Garcia Marquez's books into English, has produced a translation that's contemporary and authentic--somehow, not an oxymoron. It has a fresher feel than Putnam's (the translation Nabokov used when teaching the book), though I wouldn't say it supplants Putnam. If you're looking for a copy of Don Quixote in English, Grossman's translation is a good first choice. She manages to maintain the feel of the language Cervantes wrote in (as far as I can tell) yet her translation, as the NY Times reviewer noted, is as readable as the latest novel from Philip Roth. You can't go wrong with Putnam or Grossman, but on this one, I have to give the nod to Grossman.
202 of 214 people found the following review helpful
Quintessential Masterpiece of European Literature 3 Nov 2003
By Adam Dukovich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I have read this book both in English and Spanish, and I can honestly say that it loses very little of its power, wit or message in translation. For all those who have considered reading this book, here are a few good reasons: this book is a very nuanced look at escapism and identity, a wonderful parody of knight stories, along with being a rousing (and very funny) adventure centering around the titular hero, a man who reads one too many books about knighthood and chivalry and decides to become a knight-errant himself. After recruiting a sidekick and choosing a lady to woo per narrative convention, he sets out to conquer the forces of evil, which include, among other things, giant windmills and rogue "knights". Cervantes' insight and ability to parody were both ahead of his time, and in a time where escapism and voyeurism are well and thriving, it is not difficult to imagine someone watching too many TV shows and believing they're a wild west outlaw or what-have-you. A very fascinating experience, and it works well in any language. Highly recommended.
142 of 152 people found the following review helpful
An excellent edition of this classic. 21 Jan 2003
By Daryl Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Note: Amazon.com seems to have a hard time linking reviews to specific editions - it makes a difference. This review is of the Modern Library edition, ISBN-0679602860, translated by Samuel Putnam. I am reposting it, hoping it will link correctly this time).
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When you approach reading (or rereading) a "classic" work you really, mostly, don't have to think about whether to read it -- that decision was either made by someone assigning it to you or, more wonderfully, by you, yourself deciding to swim contra-current against the cultural waters... following Neil Young's advice to "turn off that MTV."
So. You are going to read it. And, if you are paddling the Amazon.com, here, you are going to buy and OWN it. The question really becomes which edition you should own.
This is the one.
Its a fine translation - surprising in its avoidance of archaic language. It has a nice structure - the inevitable notes are available but not obtrusive.
This edition, the Modern Library hardback edition, translated by Putnam, is also a nice book to own. It isn't one of those pretty faux-leather "shelf-candy" copies that'll break your wallet first. This is a hardworking book - the essence of the Modern Library idea. But it is a wonderful packaging of the whole 1000+ pages that is both readable and shelvable. No thousand-page paperback will survive an actual reading as anything you would want excepting as backup next to the latrine.
Did I mention that it is a great book, great story? Well, others over the years have managed that :-). But I will loudly agree. I'm rereading it only now after a 35 year hiatus (yes, indeed, classics can be lost on the young - thats why you want books that last. In 35 more years, when you turn your lance back toward targets you thought you left behind, a copy will cost you [a lot of money]). It is just plain startling in its innovations and story. I always thought Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepard were the first to break down that "third wall" and talk to the audience - yet here is Cervantes doing so five centuries back ! Wow.
Even if you've been made to buy it and to read it, buy a nice copy. Read the "Cliff notes" if you must, but someday you'll be a crazy old coot like Don Q. (or me) and want to toss something more meaningful than Palahniuk (or even Rushdie) at the cobwebs that cling.
59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
The Don 11 Mar 2000
By Sierra - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was assigned to read this book this year in my senior Humanities class. We were not expected to read every chapter, but once I started, I couldn't dream of skipping anything. Don Quixote, Book 1, tells the story of a man more optimistic and idealistic than any other in literature. He sets out as a "righter of wrongs and injustices" and doesn't let anything stand in his way. Book one is also incredibly funny in many parts, both physically and intellectually. Book 2, although a somewhat difficult read and much less humorous, is by far the better work of art. At first, I was apalled at the ending of the book, but I now feel that Cervantes was justified in his ending because he wanted us to mourn the absence of chivalry and hope in our world. I cannot express how much perspective this book will add to your life. Tip: If you are reading Don Quixote in English, I reccommend the Putnam translation.
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