Reading Classics: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
I read this book as part of the Classics Club Challenge – I challenged myself to read fifty classics picked by me in the next three years. To find out more, you can see my list or visit the Classics Club website.
Don Quixote is one of the hardest books for me to review in a very long time. On one hand, I do feel as if this is one of the best novels ever written. On the other hand, it feels as if that’s too big a praise. Which is it? Love or hate? Do I love to hate it, or hate to love it? Maybe it’s because I read this 800-page giant (it has very tiny letters) and it caused me to feel so many things, that in the end I’m so conflicted that I can’t find one feeling to describe all of Don Quixote.
Because at first I was slightly amused, but generally bored. The Don and Sancho’s antics are funny, but get a bit old once Don Quixote thinks shepherds are evil knights again, and they get smashed blue and purple again. But since I had to finish this book for a lit history class, I persevered and ploughed through.
And around page 400 I suddenly felt myself enjoying the story. I started to feel for silly Sancho Panca and his trusty donkey, and for the crazy yet honourable Don Quixote with Rozinante. The line between fiction and reality blurs further, as it’s no longer clear if Don Quixote believes in his fantasy himself. He doesn’t see inns as castles any more. Are his fancies crumbling? Yet he still plays along with the antics of the Duke and Duchess, that make their game to let Don Quixote and Sancho do the stupidest things. Another layer is added when in the diegetic world there is a book released about Don Quixote and Sancho. Reality and the book world blur even further.
Is this the start of the modern novel? Is Don Quixote the best book ever written? Does it deserve the praise it gets? I have absolutely no idea, all I know is that I felt sad that it was over.