Saturday, October 11, 2008

Why Don Quixote is a great book

Windmills, giants, barbers, innkeepers, knights errant, and libraries might not be your cup of tea. So why is Don Quixote a great book, and why does it make sense for an American to take the trouble to read this great book in Spanish?

Don Quixote asks us to ponder the questions about our humanity. What is the purpose of living? Why are we here? What do we need? What do we believe and why? Whose are we? What is loyalty? Friendship? Love?

Don Quixote is a funny book. Personally, I can't read it in public--I giggle too much. I have gotten some very strange looks while reading DQ on the NYC subway. So I am a closet DQ consumer nowadays.

Many of Cervantes' jokes are language-related, and Spanish allows for such flexibility in the formation of words and subtle changes in meaning through suffixes and slight variations that this book is much funnier in its original language.

You will probably never wake up one morning and say, "hmmm... my Spanish is good enough now, I think I'll read Don Quixote today." It's a two-volume book and it's a daunting feat to read even the first chapter for the first time, as a non-native speaker. So don't think. Just grab a copy, and a good dictionary, and wade through. Take the plunge. You'll giggle and cry your way all the way through, I'll bet, as you consider more deeply what it means to be human.

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