After twelve months I'm FINALLY finished with Don Quixote, my 10th book in this year's Back to the Classics Challenge!!!!! This was my book for the category "Classic in Translation".
I don't know what to think about this novel. I've always wanted to read it after seeing it on an episode of "Wishbone" back in the day, because it looked really funny. As I read this I realized it is humorous, but more than that it's ludicrous! The story line reminded me of a bad soap opera where no one knows what end is up and everyone is falling in love and/or has a tragedy.
On the whole I did not like the book. I would really like to know the back ground of the book because it is written like it's a biography of Don Quixote, but then other things make it seem like a work of fiction. I might like it better knowing the story behind the story. What's sad is how crazy yet wise Don Quixote is and that knowing that he is mad, Sancho Panza abandons his family and chooses to follow him anyway. I do appreciate how Don Quixote's family and friends seek to care for him, even if done in a strange and misguided way. The adventures they have are interesting, but really cause you to wonder at the sanity of people. It is a reminder that we can convince ourselves of anything if we tell ourselves it's true long enough. The adventures reminded me that we must watch ourselves in saying what is true.
For me the spiritual implications of this book kept me reading and made it more interesting. Watching Don Quixote follow something so wholeheartedly was inspirational, even if it was mad. To see Sancho Panza follow this, though, was the epitome of folly, but reminds us how often humans blindly follow another, though it is evident it is going down a road of insanity. They are also very devout to the Catholic Church and it is an interesting study in religion of that time.
As a Christian I could see how important it is to really follow God and not our own misguided understandings. If God is not the one determining our reality, we will quickly be led astray into things that are completely foolish.
My favorite part of the book was the novel in the novel that shows the danger of tempting others. I greatly appreciated this story and felt it to the core.
The second half made me very sad and a bit annoyed at how easily people will accept what they want, even though they are clearly being mocked at and made to look a fool. It also made me angry at the audacity of people to take advantage of the madness and desires of people for their own sport. Through out the book I felt sorry for both Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, but a large portion of this section made me want to yell at them, "Are you really that stupid and naive?" as well as yell at their hosts, "What is your problem?"
I can't say that I recommend this book, nor can I say that I do not recommend it. It was not an enjoyable book, except for the part mentioned above. But there are many profound observations and statements that as well as their actions that cause one to think. If you're looking for a thinking book, I would say it is good for that.
I'm going to say 3 stars for this unusual classic.