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May Books 3) Don Quixote, Part II

3) Second Part of the Ingenious Knight Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Well, I finally managed it: the second half of Don Quixote, having read the first part three years ago. It hangs together rather better than the first part - much less episodic, one senses that unlike his characters the author knew which way things were going. There is some nasty business with a Duke and Duchess who set our heroes up for a series of practical jokes; but Sancho Panza acquits himself very well from it all. In the end, Quixote's neighbours get him to just give it a rest, and the world is obviously a poorer place as a result. (Also he then dies, to reinforce the point.)

One recurrent theme of Volume II is that Quixote and Panza keep on bumping into people who know them not only from Volume I (published ten years before) but also from the seventeenth-century equivalent of fan fiction; in an early chapter, Panza is prevailed upon to explain a couple of continuity glitches from the previous volume, and there's a repeated complaint that the fanfic writers have got the leading characters completely wrong. (Tat Wood makes an obvious parallel in About Time Volume 6, which I have also been reading this weekend.)

Anyway, that's another off my list of classic literature and 2008 reading resolutions. It didn't blow me away, to be honest, in the same way that Proust has been doing; but it is one of those books everyone should try and get through.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 3rd, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
Which translation did you read? The new Grossman is very good.
May. 4th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
It was the Penguin Classics translation by John Rutherford. Adequate (and won a prize), though I can imagine someone else doing better.
May. 4th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
From the conversation I had about this book with my old friend and quaffing partner Gavin Kostick, I got the idea that Quixote was having to deal not with fan fic writers, but with hacks writing pirated sequels to the first book for a fast buck. Doesn't he go and kick the crap out of one of these at one point?
May. 4th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
That is actually fair comment; but it's actually rather closer to fan fic than most examples of literary piracy, and the way in which Cervantes reflects it in the second volume is very postmodern!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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