Sunday, September 18, 2005

The "I Finished Don Quixote" Post

When I turned the final page of Don Quixote Thursday night I sat quietly exulting for a good five minutes. I'm free, I'm free, I can read any. thing. I. want.

So I looked up the call number for Nabokov's Lectures on Don Quixote, which both Stefanie and Sandra are turning to, and walked up to the fifth floor to retrieve it, taking note of the more than an entire library case of DQ-related material and snagging Avellaneda's Don Quixote, the fake Don Quixote novel Cervantes snarks throughout Book II, in the process.

The fun is just beginning.

While I can't imagine that I'll ever read the entire novel from start to finish again, reading about the novel and rereading sections of it certainly appeals. This weekend I read Jane Smiley's commentary on DQ in my freshly-delivered Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (Book I looks back to The Decameron and The Heptameron and Book II is more modern and sophisticated); Harold Bloom's chapter on Cervantes in The Western Canon (Don Quixote and Sancho are the largest characters in the Canon excepting some of Shakespeare's); and the Guy Davenport foreward to the Nabokov (prepare for all you've ever been told about the novel to be torn apart).

"How good an author was Avellaneda?" ask John E. Keller and Alberta Wilson Server, translators of Avellaneda's Book II. "Had all trace of both parts of the true Quixote been lost and forgotten, Spanish literature could claim with considerable pride that Avellaneda had produced a great novel with memorable characters. It is comparsion with the unsurpassable masterpiece the true Quixote is that has diminished the false Quixote's worth."

Lots to think about.

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