36 Books In 2018 #23 & The Epics Project #5: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

This is my quest

To follow that star

No matter how hopeless

No matter how far

And I know, if I’ll only be true

To this glorious quest

That my heart will lie peaceful and calm

When I’m laid to my rest

I’ve always known the story of Don Quixote, from Man Of LaMancha and the best episode of Wishbone. (Wishbone was Sancho. It was a really good episode.) But I’d not ever actually read this “the first modern novel” (Written by a white man, women and several eastern and Arab authors had already written pieces that would qualify as novels) and I was looking forward to it.

Cervantes’ book is actually two parts, and while I adored part one and read it in basically a day, but part 2 was more of a challenge. For one thing, I do appreciate that this book, written in 1620 was already playing with meta narrative, because let’s face it, I love the idea that there’s nothing new under the sun, and also, I love being able to throw facts like that in the faces of people that know less about literature than I do. (Oh I know this isn’t super attractive, but I mean…SO FUN)

Anyway, part one was the story I knew, tilting at windmills, trespassing on patient peasants, admiring a poor country girl who he thinks is Dulcinea de Toboso, the lady to whom he has dedicated himself. It’s in part two, where Sancho is given governance of an island, Don Quixote is waylaid by a Duke and Duchess, and they argue about whether the book that has recently come out about Don Quixote’s adventures is accurate that I sort of lost the thread .

I did push through though and I was rewarded, as I found a new literary character who I’ve taken to my heart forever, and that is Sancho Panza.

I love the honest Sancho, who became the model for so many other characters I love. I thought of Samwise Gamgee and Samwell Tarly and Jimmy Olsen and countless other cheerful helpmates to heroes on glorious quests. Sancho is steadfast to his master, granted hoping for his reward, but still even as The Knight Of Woeful Countenance lays dying, Sancho reminds him of their adventures, and begs for another.

It’s heartbreaking and lovely, and I love Sancho and the first half of the book is amazing, and the second half is fascinating but much harder to read.

I am glad I chose it for the project though, and I think that I’ll be returning to part one at some point. Part two was way too rough, but part one was beautiful.

Up next is The Trials Of Apollo: The Burning Maze because I’ve never waited two weeks to read a Rick Riordan before. It’s been killing me that I had to wait this long. The next Epic is Ulysses by James Joyce, because, I dunno, I guess I hate myself?

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