Wow, I'm so glad I finally finished reading this book. Not because it's bad, not at all. It is simply long, very very LONG. 760 pages, to be exact. However, page count is no more accurate measure of a books size than LOC in program code size. It also depends on how much fits into a page. I'd say that a word count is a good measure for books (that's probably why they use word count for essays and school assignments, hmm...).

Anyway, since each page of Don Quixote contains a lot of words, I'd compare it in size with "War and peace", or with "Lord of the rings" (the 3 parts combined). And this is why I'm happy I finished. I read "War and peace", LOTR and other large books, but somehow I had more time for reading then. When you have 2-3 hours to read a day, a 1200 page book is not so bad. When you barely have 40 minutes, it's quite daunting. It took me more than month to read Don Quixote (although I was reading other books in parallel, but that's the rule rather than an exception) and I'm happy to finish it, since other books await.

Enough statistics, though :-) Don Quixote is a sweet fable of a Spanish gentleman gone mad, from reading too many chivalry books. You know, like children read Spiderman comicses and imagine they're Spidermen. It's easy to get over impressed by reading a book, especially if you're a kid, or your head is not 100% alright.

That was exactly the case with Don Quixote. Being the typical "aristocrate" in classic literature, he had plenty of free time on his hands, not having to work. Additionally, he had no wife and children, so he surely had to find something to make his time pass. And he did - he voraciously consumed chivalry books - all of them quite similar (think "fantasy books" - the same heroes, elves, dwarves...), telling stories of valorous knights, fighting against evil, conquering damsels' hearts, etc. Don Quixote read so many of these books, that eventually he convinced himself he's one of those knights, that there is a beautiful lady that goes by the name of Dulcinea del Toboso waiting for him, and that he has great deeds to do.

Now, you may notice some oldish scent from the last paragraph, "goes by the name", "damsel", "deeds", etc. I've read what seems like an old translation of Don Quixote (from Spanish), and it's "old English" - thou, thy, thee, beseech, hearken, damsel, deeds, etc. It's actually very well written, so it's fun to read and is contagious :-)

The poor Don Quixote becomes so obsessed with his madness that he tries to fight wind-mills (probably the first association everyone that hears of Don Quixote has), challenges lions, takes a barber basin for a helmet and believes that evil enchanters (magicians) pursue him, trying to disturb his novel causes. Many people whom he meets on the way realize quickly that he's mad and "play around" with him, making themselves as if they believe him, causing him to do mad things, to their amusement. So, in fact, Don Quixote becomes even more convinced in his being a knight...

The book is mostly easy to read, funny on many occasions, and shows the author's intentions well. The character of Don Quixote, although being comic, does leave something to admire. His truthfulness, honesty, courage, and generally good-heartedness are easy to sympathize with. It's hard to say whether Sancho Panca is a positive or a negative character though. On one hand, he loves his master and stays very loyal to him. On the other hand, sometimes it looks like he's only interested in his eventual merit (to which he's, in part, pushed by his wife, who seems to see in her husband only a means to gain wealth and status).

This book is called "the first real novel", and is truly a classic, written very long ago. The fact that it survived as a recommended read for so long is enough to be convinced that there's something in it. Bestsellers are plenty, but you won't get to read much novels composed by medieval Spanish writers (in the 17th century), translated to an ancient English (in the 18th century), which are well written. On the other hand, be warned, this is not a train/plain book. If you don't have considerable amounts of time to read, you may find yourself stretching this one for too long a period, which is undesirable when reading a fiction book (IMHO, of course).


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