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VINE VOICEon 13 September 2015
I can't add much to the synopsis of the book or the critique detailed in the reviews that accompany below. But what I will add is that this was my 3rd attempt to read a book that I've always wanted to read. I tried reading the Wordsworth and Penguin classics versions (If I remember rightly, I no longer have them) without success. But this version by Edith Grossman just works for me. The story leaps off the pages at last - no longer the dusty old tome that I tried to read in the past that failed to engage me. Scenarios and characters at last come to life and finally I can say I have read the book and enjoyed every page.
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on 24 April 2004
I had put off reading Don Quixote for many years imagining that it wouldbe difficult to read. The weight of the book, physically andmetaphorically just seemed too oppressing!
I couldn't have been morewrong. I had read so many rave reviews of Edith Grossman's translationthat I thought I would give it a go. I'm so pleased I did. This book is"laugh out loud" funny - I was not expecting to read bits aloud andgiggle! I think I expected to have to work hard to get through it but it'sa complete page turner! It also has a cinematic feel which to a nonliterature student like myself seems way ahead of its time and thecharacters, major and minor shine from every page. I now know why peoplesay this was the first modern novel - it contains all the elements of agreat read that we now take for granted. I have not read any othertranslations but Grossman's prose truly brought the book alive for me. I'mamazed how a book written in the late 16th and early 17th century can nowbe read in such an easy and accessible manner. Don Quixote can be read onmany levels (the joy of all great books) but if, like me, you were put offby it's stature, don't be, just dive in and enjoy.
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on 24 May 2013
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. It is also very, very funny, ribald, humane, witty, daring and kind. I particularly enjoyed the `jousts' that Cervantes engages in with other literary forms, together with his portrait of Seventeenth Century Spain. Edith Grossman's wonderful translation brings this world to life with no seeming condescension to the reader or the author.

In truth, having finished the novel some weeks ago, I'm still digesting it and thinking it through. I can't tell you what it's `about'. It's `about' `everything'. Heh.
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on 7 January 2011
This is a big and long book. It takes a big and long holiday to read it, but it is worth it. The translation is superb and was recommended to me on this basis. It was written a long time ago however the themes are as ever relevant today. It deals with the 'madness' of Don Quixote and his relationship with the inimitable Sancho Panzo and one the most delightful relationships ever recorded at that. (think Laurel & Hardy, Eric & Ernie, Vic & Bob). It is the only book i have ever read that has had me in hysterics in one minute and crying the next.

The book recounts a series of adventures and to this end can be compared to Monkey and Arabian Nights in way they never end. The adventures usually involve Don Quixote's madness in some shape or form (mistaking windmills for giants being the most quoted)and the people that are around to take advantage of this.

What struck me most when reading this was how the conversations between Don and Sancho become such a major part of the book. And how beautiful, funny, sad, enlightening, frustrating and entertaining they are.

It surprises me how this book doesn't feature in many 100 books to read before you die lists when it most definitely should.
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on 20 July 2007
For decades I wondered what all the fuss was about. Don Quixote remained in my mind - a mystical figure from a closed literary genre of long ago. I browsed numerous editions from a multitude of publishers and translators, but could never get past the first chapter or two. Nonetheless something always drew me back to the knght who was misplaced in time, action and outlook.
Then I chanced upon Edith Grossman's translation, and came to realise that it's not the tale but the telling that makes a story.
Don Quixote leaps from the pages of this translation with a force that carries his doubtful but loyal squire Sancho Panza in its wake. This is an hilarious and serious work. It speaks of honour and ridicule and aspiration beyond one's means. And it was written 300 years ago. So what's new?
Read Don Quixote if you want to ponder timeless issues faced by every generation. Should you wish to read it without pain and in English, make sure you choose Edith Grossman's translation. It's a gift from the gods of literature.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 March 2007
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.

So, if the notion of reading a book written four-hundred years ago sounds ridiculous to you, then you probably aren't going to like it. If the idea of reading a classic piece of literature appeals to you, but seems daunting, it's worth dipping into to see if it's your cup of tea. On the whole, it's a work probably best read as part of a book group or in some other semi-formal setting, where one can discuss it, since there is quite a bit lurking beneath its picaresque depths.
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on 19 August 2016
I started reading a public library copy of the Oxford Classics version Don Quixote (Charles Jarvis translation) last week
and immediately found it very delightful. Being such a large book I then thought I'd look for a 2nd hand copy and read it at a
leisurely pace... Looking at versions available, this one had so many 5 stars reviews and, being up to date and supposedly
'the best', I went and bought it - why didn't I take full and proper advantage of the 'LOOK INSIDE' facility first ?
I guess I was keen to get cheapest bargain whilst it was still available : (

Within 5 mins of opening Edith Grossman's book I was regretting the purchase at leisure.... much of her phrasing, and
choice of words is pretty unappealing to me - all the charm that I was getting from Charles Jarvis's version just isn't to be
found here at all... I still have the library book, and after comparing lots of bits at random, I can't see there's any enjoyment
to be had from reading the Grossman translation.

I've now bought the Oxford World's Classics Don Quixote : )

Charles Jarvis (or Jervas) - c. 1675 - 1739, Irish portrait painter, translator, and art collector... having discovered some info about
him I'm now understanding why I might find his version rather more to my taste than this modern american - every page
I looked at seems so very colourless in comparison with Jarvis's rendition of the same.
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on 13 February 2011
Given that this book was written 500 years ago it is surprisingly readable. In fact, it is a thoroughly enjoyable and often comical read.

Maybe it is Edith Grossman's translation that has made it accessible to a reader who prefers Bill Bryson, Peter James and Dick Francis to great classical authors like Shakespeare and Dickens. However, untranslated, it must be a pretty good novel anyway because in many surveys it is considered one of the best books of all time.

Cervantes great novel tells the story of an impoverished country gentleman who, having read too many stories about chivalry, decides to become a knight errant. He sets out on a series of adventures - or possibly misadventures - in a quest to put the world to rights. The escapades of the absurd Don Quixote and his companion, Sancho Panza, are set in the La Mancha region of Spain.

Even if you only read one of the great classics of literature, I would urge you to read "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes and this edition would be recommended for English readers.
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on 2 July 2006
How can a person provide a review of one of the most important works of literature in the world? In my case, I don't think I can, but I can offer observations on what it felt like to read.

I first read Don Quixote in a previous translation, and finally made it through the first volume in a few months. It was like pulling teeth. I knew that it was a famous story, and techically interesting, but the first three hundred pages seemed like repetitive episodes of the same joke. It appeared little wonder that the most quoted chapter around tilting at windmills was the first one.

This time around, with Edith Grossman's translation, it was a great deal more enjoyable. The text flows beautifully, and where it is impossible to translate nuances or technical terms, she explains all in informative footnotes. For once, I can only agree with the publishers: it is the definitive translation.

This is well worth the effort of braving the initial episodes, and taking the time to read properly. For me, it's only after the famous events such as mistaking sheep for an approaching army and suchlike are out of the way, that the book becomes really interesting. There are fascinating novellas that dwell on relations with the Moors, and the perils of young love in the 16th Century, which are at least as good as the main text.

So, by all means, buy this version. Particularly the paperback. The hardback was too heavy to read in bed.
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on 21 February 2006
This is the best book I have read in a very long time. Edith Grossman has made the story very readable and deserves to be commended. When I started reading Don Quixote, even though it is over 900 pages in length, I tried rationing myself to ten pages a day, hoping to savour the imagery and stretch out the joy for as long as possible. Suffice to say I couldn't do it. I am now very close to the end of the story, and I am already feeling sorry for having raced through the last few hundred pages.

As for the storyline, it concerns the many adventuers of an old man who adopts the life of a knight errant (Don Quixote), and his squire (Sancho Panza). The novel contains many sub-novellas (short stories and digressions), and so it could be thought of not as one book but many. I will not give any more detail, but I will say the mix of the absurd and intelligent, and the masterly writing style of Cervantes (and expert translation by Grossman), makes for one of the best books of all time.

This is the only book of fiction that I am not going to sell on; I hope to revisit Don Quixote every year from here on. Also worth mentioning is the wonderful illustration on the front cover by Pablo Picasso.

Follow up - March 2011: I have read my copy of Don Quixote so many times that the spine has cracked and pages are coming loose and falling out. I also saw fit to rip out the rather off-putting introduction by Harold Bloom, where Bloom compares Cervantes to Shakespeare...it is a rather horrible thing that had to be done away with. Grossman's translation has had me transfixed and at times perplexed (do we admire or pity Quixote?). Indeed, my obsession with the book and its characters and ideas has not diluted over the years, but has grown stronger; I am half way through the book for one final time and while I feel that I must hold on to this masterpiece as a physical object of admiration, once I have finished this reading I am planning to tape the book up with sellotape so as not to spend any more time reading it. An eternal wonder.
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