Hem. Well, I’ll make this brief. I didn’t like this book at all. This is supposed to be such a great book, the model for modern times, or whatever such nonsense. To me, it felt like the 1600s version of Monty Python (which I also hate). Lots of bodily fluid, lots of sex jokes, lots of prejudice, etc, etc. The antics of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza went on for ages, stuff that could easily have been reduced to a fraction of their length. Admittedly, about 200 pages in (of about 450), Cervantes gives the reader a long break. We meet a lot of people not in any way related to Don Quixote, and they tell very interesting stories for a 100 pages or so. There’s even a lot of places where Don Quixote isn’t there. That, I think, is the only thing that enabled me to reach the end. If it had all gone on like the first 150-200 pages, I would have given up. I couldn’t have handled it. One more reference to vomit or feces and I was out of there! The last part slipped along pretty fast, though, as I said before, when Don Quixote was out of the way.
I have yet to do any research on this book, and I’m not sure what I’m going to find when I do. I personally didn’t get anything out of it except a desire to throw the book against the wall (but couldn’t, because it belongs to the library). I’m sure the critics will have a lot better review than I do, and that I’ll have tons of stuff that I may or may not believe to bring to my book club when I have to present this book mid-June. All I know now is that I will not be reading Book 2.
I do want to say one good thing about this book, though. Cervantes certainly has a strong sense of individual voice. Each character speaks in his own way, which made it really easy to skim through all those flowery, chivalry-copied speeches of Don Quixote’s, and really easy to read through the tales of other characters. If it was all in Quixote-language, I’d still be mid-book. So yay for that. I definitely concede that Cervantes is a good writer. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s good enough to recommend the book, because good writing on a bad plot isn’t necessarily worth reading. As I say, some parts are interesting, but the humor in this – it’s supposed to be a comedy – just didn’t appeal to me. I’ve never been one for potty humor. Sorry.
Oh, and I suppose a brief plot synopsis is in order: A man reads a lot of chivalry books and goes insane. He runs off, thinking he’s a knight errant (dubbing himself Don Quixote), gets himself a squire, and goes on a lot of pointless adventures that are constructed to be grand (or even “real” sometimes – he does attack windmills that he thinks are giants…) in his mind. Everyone laughs at him and generally he gets beaten up, as well as his squire (Sancho Panza). Then the reader hears a lot of love-gone-awry stories from other people, which eventually right themselves, and Don Quixote is carted off back home by concerned fellow-villagers. If that sounds interesting enough to take up 450 pages of your time, and you don’t mind Monty Python type humor, have at it – this book is for you.