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Old 08-12-2018, 11:27 PM
6,089 posts, read 5,698,791 times
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Hi All-

I really want to read Don Quixote now, for a variety of reasons. I downloaded it to my kindle for free and . . . now I'm afraid I won't finish it unless I have some other people reading and discussing it with me as we push one another along.

Does anyone want to read Don Quixote with me?

Various versions are free on Project Gutenberg https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/sea...ry=don+quixote , and here's the free Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/Don-Quixote-M...antes+Saavedra

The version I have is 74 chapters long. I figure we could do around 5 chapters a day, for about a 2 week reading period.

Just respond to this thread if you're interested! I'll aim for starting 8/15/18.

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Old 08-13-2018, 07:41 AM
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I have always wanted to read it as well, and also have a free version on my kindle (not sure from where ~~ will check to see how many chapters and such). I will look later but I think I would love to join you in this. thank you for suggesting!
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Old 08-13-2018, 07:54 AM
Location: Nantahala National Forest, NC
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I don't do kindle...looked for a used book but they are all in several volumes, and not all translators are the same. If I find the correct one will let you know...good idea!
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Old 08-15-2018, 09:47 AM
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OK you guys, I'm going to start reading today. Back for our first discussion tomorrow!
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Old 08-15-2018, 10:53 PM
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So, I wanted to read this book because I've heard/read so many references to it lately. The protagonists' ship in The Expanse is The Rocinate (Don Quixote's horse.) The book was referenced many times in another book I just finished: The Brethren Prince. And I just found a new barn kitten who I've named Dulcinea because the song's been in my head lately (don't know why.) I did see Man of La Mancha back a hundred years ago when I was a kid and remember loving it.

Anyway, I've always thought the book was about a noble but deluded man's hopeless quests. It may be.

But I just finished the first 6 chapters, and so far Don Quixote is a book about books! Or, the 1st 6 chapters are, anyway.

These first chapters seem to be more Cervantes jabs at both those who don’t understand books, and at silly pretentious books.

Q is a man who is addicted to reading books about chivalry. “…with little sleep and much reading his brain got so dry that he lost his wits.”

After taking off on his 1st adventure, “ . . . everything he saw or imagined seemed to him to have happened after the fashion of what he read of . . .”

In the course of the story, a Curate, a Barber (doctor), Q’s niece and housekeeper debate burning various books that they think have caused him to go insane. The housekeeper wants to burn them all, but the Curate wants to look over them first. Many books are discussed by the characters, including Cervantes 1st book, “Galatea”. Most books are thrown into the yard to be burned, some are sent to the housekeepers room to be hidden, some were thrown down a dry well, and a few were kept.

So is this a book about the power of stories to influence people? Or is this just a side story; just Cervantes joking and being peeved that his first book wasn't well received?

And, the titles and characters mentioned, are they real books? I did look up a few (Amadis of Gaul, Tirante lo Blanco) and they were real chivalrous romances of the period.

So, now I want to know, why is Don Quixote considered the first novel, if these other books existed to be referenced by Cervantes? They certainly weren't factual. They were mythic, but based on history. So, why weren't they considered novels?

Looking forward to hearing anyone's thoughts (even if you read this book years and years ago, please share!)
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Old 08-16-2018, 08:03 PM
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I am a bit behind you- but I did just read the first 3 chapters. I really have no answers for you but I did want to let you know I am trying this too. I hope others will jump in as well. I do find it enjoyable but a bit hard to stick with at some points due to the wordiness of this. I also did not get many of the references which I am sure are meaningful.................but I am sticking with it and thank you for suggesting this.
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:53 AM
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HI Mayvene, glad you're joining in!

I should note here that it's becoming clear to me that as a reader I would have benefited from also reading a scholarly work giving it all context, because who knows if I am understanding what I should be understanding? But then, Cervantes himself might say exactly the same thing, because, in chapters 7 - 10 he interjects himself as the author to comment about the book.

These chapters are, on the surface, about Q's new adventures on the road with his new squire, Sancho Panza. They first encounter the windmills most of us have heard about. Q thinks they are giants, and battles them. This has given rise to the modern saying "tilting at windmills". I've always thought that meant a hopeless fight, but I guess it means attacking imaginary foes (according to Wikipedia). This adventure also gives rise to our saying "windmills in the head", which is what Sancho Panza says Q has (which I always thought meant "crazy", more or less) but means more like someone who isn't grounded in reality, but is blinded by illusions. The exact definition of Q, in fact.

So the adventure goes on, and Cervantes definitely means it all to be funny. Sancho says foolish things, and Q says and does more foolish things, all based on his illusions from years of reading chivalrous romances.

But maybe the point is more about Cervantes now interjecting himself as author. He writes that he is the "second author" of this story, and only knew the incomplete story. Then in his travels he found someone selling pamphlets entitled "History of Don Quixote of La Mancha written by Cale Hondo Benegali, an Arab Historian." He gets someone to translate the work for him, and so learns more about this particular adventure of Q. But C doubts the truth of this version, because the author was an Arab and all Arabs are liars (he says.) So, Cervantes is telling us (me), the reader, to doubt the story itself, although he says he is including this new information he found in his storytelling.

So the whole thing might be a lie, or, at the very least, an imperfect truth.

I guess it's easiest to read DQ as an adventure story, but there's too much other stuff going on.

I confess to sneaking a look at a thread about this book on Reddit. It was entitled "Why is Don Quixote considered Nihilistic Literature?". I didn't read the thread, partly because I don't want to spoil my own impressions, but also - I've completely forgotten what "nihilistic" means.

My head hurts.
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Old 08-17-2018, 04:58 AM
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Hi 601---
I also have to confess that I saw the show Man of La Mancha way back (not sure how old I was but I will google and see when it was on Broadway. I remember having the record album) so I am vaguely familiar with the story.
I also recall learning just how MAJOR this book is, when we visited Spain I think they said it was required reading for everyone in school.... historically too I want to look up Cervantes because they said quite a bit about him but of course I am hazy...
historically and otherwise.
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Old 08-17-2018, 10:48 PM
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Chapters 11 - 15.

Q & S continue their journey. They learn from shepherds about a young man who has recently died for unrequited love (a staple of chivalric romances.) They decide to go to his funeral, where one of the young man's friend's reads aloud his poem about the cruelty of the beautiful maiden who wouldn't return his love.

Then, the beautiful girl shows up to the funeral, and basically says - I didn't ask to be beautiful! Do I have to love someone just because they love me because of my beauty? Why should someone who is beautiful part with her virtue (which is what makes her actually beautiful) just to gratify the desires of someone who wants her beauty? All I want is to be alone in nature - I have my own money, I neither love nor hate anyone, I don't encourage anyone, so leave me alone and don't blame me for this man's death - he died of his own impatience and passions.

Doesn't that seem to be a very modern POV? That a young woman shouldn't have to give in to the desires of the men who desire her, and that doesn't make her bad or cruel.

Don Quixote was published in 1615. It's 400 years later. Why do women keep having to say this?

And again, Cervantes is making fun of the formulae of traditional chivalric romances.
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Old 08-21-2018, 01:00 AM
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I got lazy for a few days. I told you guys I need others to spur me on when it comes to stuff like reading a dense classic. Please, dear reader, help me by reading along with me!

Chapters 16 - 20. In which Q and SP encounter various adventures. They all develop because Q misreads situations, which causes confusion in others, and the situations all end up in Q and SP getting beaten up. An inn is mistaken for a castle, a willing chambermaid for the daughter of the castle, goats and their herders for armies, a mourning procession for enemy armies, and etc. When something turns out differently than Q expects, he blames magicians and enchantments.

There is also a lot of ribald humor about both Q and SP puking and having smelly diarrhea, too. Was there ever a man alive, 400 years ago or now, who didn't enjoy snickering about bodily functions?

And there continues to be humor in SPs reaction to events. Q tells him he's not behaving at all like a squire in the stories, and that he should be more respectful. SP asks - how much did those squires earn? And later, SP tells Q a folk story. He reaches a certain point, then says he forgets the rest, which drives Q crazy.

Anyway, it was in this section that SP first calls Q "The Knight of the Rueful Countenance", which I seem to remember knowing about already, maybe from Man of La Mancha? He explains that it's because Q looks pretty terrible now, due to fatigue and hunger and missing teeth due to a beating. Q likes the name, saying all knights have a distinctive name.

There are many interesting historic and/or Spanish words that I've had to look up as I go along. And the quick translations don't always solve the problem for me, either. For example, Q and SP encounter a group of "encamisados" on the road. Context makes me think they are mourners, possibly priests or monks? One who they speak to (after breaking his leg) says he is a 1st year something. But on-line I only find definitions that mean "shirted" or "covered". So, hmmm. Also, and in this vein, Q and SP encounter a scary noise near some running water in the dark of night. In the morning they find that it was just "fulling hammers" at a "fulling mill". That made me remember "fullers earth", which I have. Does it have something to do with beating or processing cloth, with the running water powering the mill? Oh, yay, yes, I was right! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fulling#Fulling_mills
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