Reflecting on Don Quixote

I’m at a loss as to how I should review and describe this book. I don’t want to completely trash it for fear of coming across as a hater and just not being taken seriously. But there’s no other way to go about it.
I recognize and respect the book for what it meant to people in the 1700s and 1800s. The book options were limited, and a parody book – especially one this big – was groundbreaking. In 1716 this would have been my favorite book and I would have read it 10 times and loved every word. In 1816, the same thing. In 1916 I think I still may have enjoyed it. But in 2016 it was easily the worst book I have ever read. Terrible.

With all due respect to Don Quixote’s place in history, this book would not have gotten past the publishing stage today. It would not have even gotten consideration from a literary agent. It was poorly written, it was not funny (980 pages and it brought a charitable smile to my face three times and maybe a quick snicker), there was nothing to urge the reader to read on. It was boring. If you want to give up reading for awhile, make this your next book. You’ll put it down and have no motivation to pick it back up. But over the past four weeks I forced myself to keep going and really give it a chance.

It was terrible though. I read John Rutherford’s intro and what the story meant to him and what it meant to people of that time, as well as the arduous task of translating a story from Spanish to English. Full respect for the process. I get it. but I’d rate that introduction one star out of five. And that beats the novel itself, which was zero stars. Even Part II, which was slightly better (that’s not hard) was barely rousing enough to give one star.

I read fantasy novels almost exclusively. And my humor is about as loose as it gets – I laugh at all humor be it stupid, dry, sarcastic or straight up funny. And this was not funny, nor was it a good adventure story. Let’s not celebrate famous historical books as modern-day “must reads”. This is not a must read. It shouldn’t even be read. Instead, let’s carve out a place in history for it and acknowledge it as groundbreaking – much in the way we acknowledge caveman drawing as groundbreaking. We don’t insist on having all the caveman art read by the masses, do we?

There is nothing redeeming about Don Quixote and each time I ended a chapter I was happy and hopeful – and then each time I saw that yet another chapter began, it was a crushing disappointment. Terrible in every sense of the word and no way it gets published in this day and age, with all the great work that’s being put out there now.



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