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Book Title: The Portable Cervantes|
The author of the book: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Edition: Penguin Books
Date of issue: November 18th 1976
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 498 KB
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Reader ratings: 6.8
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Of 'Don Quixote':
This substantial, but abridged version of 'Don Quixote' is the only one I've read.
First, the notes were endlessly helpful. The plot is straightforward enough, but Quixote's constant references to the literature of knight-errantry, and Sancho Panza's proverbs would be nearly unintelligible without them.
At first, I thought that Don Quixote was laugh out loud funny. Quixote's soliloquies on the virtues and laws of chivalry, and the manner in which he addresses people are hilarious. Despite a few tiring digressions, the first part is a strong testament to why this classic is a top contender on many people's list for the greatest book ever written.
As for the second part, it begins strongly with the protagonists comically addressing the inconsistencies of the first part. They speak with more depth and pathos than the first book, and the first few adventures lead me to believe I was in for more of what was best in the first part. However, very quickly the worst of the first part is brought to center stage and magnified ten times over until the very bitter end. A whole cast of hum-drum characters flit in and out of the story. The whole lengthy and tiring sequence of Quixote and Panza in the company of the Duke and Dutchess (which takes up most of the second book) is not only mind-numbingly convoluted with side stories and digressions, but it makes nonsense of what we've been led to believe are the established virtues of both protagonists.
Where before Quixote was a well-intentioned but lovably foolish and side-splittingly funny "knight-errant", in the second book he is little more than a dunce, and a pawn to boot under the seemingly cruel and gratuitous pranks of his ducal hosts. For all his silliness, Don Quixote has been endearing enough that it is enough for us to laugh at his own fantasies, but no one I think wants to see him MADE the fool of. His "intelligence" is occasionally redeemed with a poignant (although maybe undeserved) monologue to Sancho Panza on governance, chivalry, or temperance, but for most of the second part, Quixote is only a ghost of the charming character we met in the first book.
As for Sancho Panza, his character becomes so confused as to be almost unrecognizable. In one instance, he is the simple, slightly greedy, but good hearted squire we know, in another he is practically a pillar of parochial wisdom and tender governance. In one moment he is as taken with the life of knight-errantry as Quixote is, in another is not only a liar (as in the episode of Clavileno), but ultimately, after he shirks the penance he promised to pay to "awaken" Dulcinela, he seems like little more than a crook.
All this coupled with a host of wearisome digressions and a whole bunch of glaring inconsistencies in plot and narrative (one note describes one error in narration as, "a confusion of ideas it would be difficult to match."), makes it very hard to say that I've just read "the greatest piece of fiction ever written".
That said, I will read the entire thing eventually, although I'm sure the increased length will only add to my list of perceived deficiencies.
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Read information about the authorMiguel de Cervantes Saavedra was a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright. His novel Don Quixote is often considered his magnum opus, as well as the first modern novel.
It is assumed that Miguel de Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henares. His father was Rodrigo de Cervantes, a surgeon of cordoban descent. Little is known of his mother Leonor de Cortinas, except that she was a native of Arganda del Rey.
In 1569, Cervantes moved to Italy, where he served as a valet to Giulio Acquaviva, a wealthy priest who was elevated to cardinal the next year. By then, Cervantes had enlisted as a soldier in a Spanish Navy infantry regiment and continued his military life until 1575, when he was captured by Algerian corsairs. He was then released on ransom from his captors by his parents and the Trinitarians, a Catholic religious order. He subsequently returned to his family in Madrid.
In Esquivias (Province of Toledo), on 12 December 1584, he married the much younger Catalina de Salazar y Palacios (Toledo, Esquivias –, 31 October 1626), daughter of Fernando de Salazar y Vozmediano and Catalina de Palacios. Her uncle Alonso de Quesada y Salazar is said to have inspired the character of Don Quixote. During the next 20 years Cervantes led a nomadic existence, working as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada and as a tax collector. He suffered a bankruptcy and was imprisoned at least twice (1597 and 1602) for irregularities in his accounts. Between 1596 and 1600, he lived primarily in Seville. In 1606, Cervantes settled in Madrid, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Cervantes died in Madrid on April 23, 1616.
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