I’ve been curiously quiet about Don Quixote for a while. It’s not that I’ve stopped reading it or anything; I’m still working hard at it. It’s just that this book has really frustrated me. It’s. So. Fucking. Meta.
Let’s just talk about the first part (written in 1604). There are so many other stories in this besides Don Quixote’s that he, the main character, almost gets cut out of his own book. It’s his madness! He veers so far away from “reality” that “reality” threatens to cut him out completely. But whenever that’s about to happen, Quixote comes to his senses just enough to get back into the story. So that’s…weird. But layer on all the different stories that the characters tell and the different ways they tell the story, and I can’t help but wonder if this is what Cervantes meant to write: some sort of meta treatise on what it means to tell a story and/or what it means to be a character in a story.
The second part (written in 1614) is different in that now all the other characters want to encourage Don Quixote’s madness while the ‘xotes is much more hesitant to indulge in the fantasy (but eventually does). Sancho Panza used to be the first one to warn the ‘xotes that the advancing armies are just flocks of sheep or whatever, but now he’s buying into the madness just as much as ‘xotes. And it’s not a complete focus on the eponymous character: Sancho is getting a lot of screen time, too.
I’m still on track to finish this in a week and a half, but I fear it’ll take a second reading (like IJ) to fully appreciate this novel for what it is. Nabakov’s lectures on Don Quixote are supposed to be brilliant, so maybe I’ll slurp those down this year or at least before I try rereading this book. (Of course, rumor is Nabakov didn’t appreciate the beauty of slapstick–which is about a quarter of this book–so maybe I won’t read it.)