Friday, January 11, 2008

winter reading challenge

I'm sticking with Don Quixote. I slowed down in my reading of it over the Christmas holiday being so busy, and my focus was elsewhere. January has renewed my interest.

There are two parts to this book and I'm about a third of the way into part two. This is where my difficulty began since part one felt like a complete journey. The travels of Don Quixote and his squire Sancho were very entertaining in the first part. With the return of Don Quixote to his home and family at the end of part one I could have set the book down and moved on to a new book, but I knew part two would lead to further adventures and having enjoyed them thus far I kept reading. I also kept reading because I reminded myself that my winter reading challenge goal was to complete books previously unfinished.

Highlights of part one for me are:
  • the vivid descriptions of Don Quixote and his actions. Cervantes has given me an image of a comedic character, the Knight of the Rueful Figure with his bucket/helmet on his head seated atop his sad horse Rozinante that is very entertaining.
  • the narratives within the main narrative. There are two tragic love stories within that are resolved with happy endings because of these characters encountering Don Quixote. The way Cervantes brings all of these characters together is brilliant.
  • the discussion about books and their value. There is a bit of self-reflexivity here. Whether this is intentional or not I'm not sure, but there's a chapter where two characters weigh the value of the knight adventure books that has led Don Quixote to his illusion that he is a knight errant and is out to encounter adventure. They keep some books and discard others for burning. Their reasons and logic begins to break down as the discussion goes on. It seemed so relevant to me. How little we've changed believing that some books will be detrimental to the reader (think of schools banning certain books that they don't want to influence children in a negative way. Harry Potter???).
  • Don Quixote releasing the prisoners in chains and chaos ensues (like most of his adventures)
  • The dialogues between Don Quixote and Sancho where Quixote keeps correcting Sancho's misuse of certain words.


Karen said...

I'm soooo glad that you are enjoying this! It took me just over 9 months to read it because I kept having to put it down and then I'd pick it up again a while later. It's one of those few books that I can see myself re-reading again many times throughout the rest of my life. My only regret? I didn't read it sooner. Looking forward to further updates!

Wandering Coyote said...

Good for you for sticking with it. I'd probably have given up after 10 pages...Classics just aren't my thing at all.

sp said...

I can see re-reading it again as well.

I was going to put it up for trading but I think I'll hang onto it. Besides it is pretty dog-eared now.