1001 Books Challenge: The Adventures of Don Quixote

Yay!  I finished the first book in my 1001 Books Challenge! I knew I wanted to start at the bottom of the list with the oldest books and work my way up to more recent publications, but the only one I had in my hot little hand was The Adventures of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

I knew it would be a difficult read, but I didn’t anticipate having quite so much trouble.  It’d been awhile since I read anything resembling Shakespeare or old fashioned texts so I was very challenged by this book.  There were a couple of times where I wanted to give up but I figured that it wouldn’t be a good way to start a challenge, so I continued.  After the first half of the book I started to read with more ease.  Even still, I couldn’t read with any background noise – it took all my concentration to be able to understand what I was reading.

DH reminded me that the book was supposed to be a parody and therefore funny.  I’m not sure if the funny parts went over my head because I was concentrating so hard on understanding everything or if it just wasn’t funny, but I found myself laughing at very little.  If it’s one of those things you have to read a second time to “get” the jokes, well… I’ll just have to pass on the humor this time.

Don Quixote is the story of an old man who believes himself to be a knight errant, and a simple man who he has conned into becoming his squire.  Don Quixote is quite delusional and he manages to convince Sancho (his squire) that his delusions are real.  Eventually, gossip about this crazy duo spreads: books are being written by bunches of different authors, each with their own spin on the exploits.  People begin to play tricks on the knight and squire so that they can be written about as well.  Eventually Don Quixote loses a challenge and is forced to go home where he passes away.

Towards the end of the book I began to feel bad for Don Quixote.  Maybe that was the problem: I empathized too much with him to ever think that what was happening was funny.  It just seemed like everyone was making fun of him and teasing him, but he was completely unaware of it and thought they were all being completely sincere.  It truly reminded me of a bunch of bullies making fun of a mentally retarded person for their own entertainment.  Or like the popular kids tricking the outcast into thinking that they’re important to the group.

1 book down… 1,000 to go!

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