Oh, I know the feeling--bring out the musicians...I've finished Don Quixote! When I turned that last page I felt like a hundred balloons should have been released in celebration. Three months and 11 days. That's all it took. Actually the last 20 pages or so really should be reread. I was so happy to be nearing the end, I'm not sure I took it all in. But you'll be happy to know (those of you who are reading it, too) that loose ends are more or less all tied up and Don Quixote (the novel) comes to a definitive end. I'll be curious to know what others think of the ending.
This isn't a proper DQ post, as I still have some essays I would like to read. There is so much material in this book, I'm not even sure how to process it all in my mind, let alone summarize it in any decent way here. I really did like Don Quixote, though I have to say this is a long book. There were times it felt like it just went on and on---one long, epic adventure. Victoria did an excellent job discussing the first half of the novel. I take for granted all the elements that might make up a novel, but Cervantes came up with all the "tricks" first, and it was hard trying to keep that in mind while reading. I think what surprised me most when I started this was how modern it felt. I had expected a book written in the 17th century to be sort of labyrinthine and hard to read. I really didn't expect it to be as accessible as it was. Although it was not something I could read quickly, it wasn't particularly difficult either. Perhaps the ease of reading the language was due to Edith Grossman's excellent translation. In the introduction she writes:
"I believe that my primary obligation as a literary translator is to recreate for the reader in English the experience of the reader in Spanish. When Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, it was not yet a seminal masterpiece of European literature, the book that crystallized forever the making of literature out of life and literature, that explored in typically ironic fashion, and for the first time, the blurred and shifting frontiers between fact and fiction, imagination and history, perception and physical reality, or that set the stage for all Hispanic studies and all serious discussions of the history and nature of the novel. When Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, his language was not archaic or quaint. He wrote in a crackling, up-to-date Spanish that was an intrinsic part of his time, a modern language that both reflected and helped to shape the way people experienced the world. This meant that I did not need to find a special, anachronistic, somehow-seventeenth-century voice, but I could translate his astonishingly fine writing into contemporary English."
Although she says she wanted the reading experience to be the same for English readers as for Spanish readers, I wonder what it must be like to read this in the original Spanish and get all the intricate word play or literary references that couldn't really be translated into English? I found Grossman's footnotes to be very helpful but not too intrusive.
So. Here it is. The Father of the Modern Novel. Literary masterpiece aside, it was still an entertaining read at its most basic level. I have a feeling that there is going to be a ripple effect now in my other readings. It will be interesting seeing him pop up as a reference in places I probably won't expect him (and now I'll know what all the fuss is about!).