In a small village in La Mancha, Spain, the noble Alonso Quijano has become completely consumed by the stories he’s read of knights and their valiant chivalry and so he imagines himself one of these knight, renames himself Don Quixote, and with his loyal servant Sancho Panza, sets off on a series of (mis)adventures, battling imaginary foes and treating common women as a knight would treat a duchess, all in the name of chivalry.
I have a literary bucket list of classics I’ve been wanting to read and this has been high on my list. I have been glad that a number of publishers have been reissuing classics (often with new translations) as most of what I read lately are ARCs.
Not having read this before, and really, not knowing as much about it as I thought I did, I was a little surprised by the episodic nature of the book. I was expecting a longer story with a series of mishaps along the way. And while that could be an interpretation of this book, this came across more as a series of adventures loosely bound up in an over-arcing set-up.
I was also surprised at just important Sancho is to the story. In fact, Don Quixote, due to his narrow focus of being gallant and chivalrous, was almost a little dull while Sancho, who sees behind the veneer of Don Quixote’s imagination, and is maybe a little high strung and often fearful as to how things might turn out, provides the color and energy to Quixote’s story.
In fact, there is a time when Sancho leaves to be the ruler of his own domain and the next chapters with Don Quixote (without Sancho) are almost disappointing, while Sancho gets his own story in a chapter or two, and I absolutely loved these!
This translation by John Ormsby is really brilliant. Sometimes when reading a translated book, I can sense a stiffness in the language. That doesn’t happen here. One might think that this book was originally written in English, just as it appears here.
I’m really glad to have read this and to now have a better understanding of the occasional Don Quixote references I come across in literature, and that my basic understanding of the book is not just based on the musical, Man of La Mancha.
This is not an easy read. It’s about 1,000 pages, small print, and still has a style that was popular hundreds of years ago and is not swift in action. A single paragraph can run for pages and a simple object might take multiple paragraphs to describe.
It is interesting how important a translation of a famous work can be. I’ve started to read this book before but never made it past the first five chapters before being too bored with it. This time my attention was held (it took me months to finish, but I did stick with it).
Looking for a good book? Anyone who likes to read should have Don Quixote by Cervantes on their ‘to be read’ list, and this particular version, with translation by John Ormsby, is perfect for the modern reading audience.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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translator: John Ormsby
publisher: Restless Books
paperback, 960 pages