Book 49: A book with 500 pages, Don Quixote by Cervantes
Don Quixote is one of those massive, intimidating novels that has sat on my bookshelves for over a decade in the “to read someday” pile. Being of Spanish descent, I felt an additional weight of obligation weighing heavily upon me whenever I guiltily caught this book’s eye. Deep down I always believed I would read it, but you know, someday. When I had the time. Which turned out to be never. So here I am, adding it to my book challenge this year.
The novel was published in two parts, one in 1605 and the second following in 1615. It’s considered the novel of the Spanish literary canon and one of the most influential novels on Western literature. I would say I’m quite shocked that despite having a BA and MA in English Literature that I’ve never read this yet, but really, literature programs are so xenophobic (I’d say about 80% of the literature we study is strictly British) that it isn’t that surprising at all. Plus, it seems quite mean to torture undergrads with a novel of this scope. Nevertheless, I decided at the ripe old age of thirtycoughcoughcoughsomething I should give it a go. Please believe me when I tell you that even a person like myself, who devotes vast amounts of my free time to reading books, struggled to fit this into my schedule. It’s not a book one can just glide through. In fact, many times I wished I could slow down and re-read several portions. I just didn’t have the time to devote to it. Know going into this novel that it will take up a lot of your time, but will be worth it, I feel, in the end.
The story centers around the titular character, Don Quixote. He is a man who has spent lots of time reading about knights and the chivalric order. Quixote becomes so enamored with the chivalric romances he reads that he has a mental break down. He sets out with Sancho Panza, a simple man recruited to his cause, to bring chivalry and order back into the world. Hilarity ensues.