Synopses & Reviews
Considered one of the true classics of world literature, DON QUIXOTE details the adventures of Don Quixote de la Mancha, whose imaginary windmill-tilting travels to solve the world's ills have become modern folklore. This Modern Library hardcover edition is Samuel Putnam's translation based on the original Spanish texts and includes variant readings, notes, and translator's introduction.
"Don Quixote is practically unthinkable as a living being," said novelist Milan Kundera. "And yet, in our memory, what character is more alive?"
----Widely regarded as the world's first
modern novel, Don Quixote chronicles the famous picaresque adventures of the noble knight-errant Don Quixote de La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain. This Modern Library edition presents the acclaimed Samuel Putnam translation of the epic tale, complete with notes, variant readings, and an Introduction by the translator.
----The debt owed to Cervantes by literature is immense. From Milan Kundera: "Cervan-
tes is the founder of the Modern Era. . . . The novelist need answer to no one but
Cervantes." Lionel Trilling observed: "It can be said that all prose fiction is a variation on the theme of Don Quixote." Vladmir Nabo-kov wrote: "Don Quixote is greater today than he was in Cervantes's womb. He] looms so wonderfully above the skyline of literature, a gaunt giant on a lean nag, that the book lives and will live through his] sheer vitality. . . . He stands for everything that is gentle, forlorn, pure, unselfish, and gallant. The parody has become a paragon." And V. S. Pritchett observed: "Don Quixote begins as a province, turns into Spain, and ends as a universe. . . . The true spell of Cervantes is that he is a natural magician in pure story-telling."
The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foun-
dation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torchbearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices."
Don Quixote chronicles the famous picaresque adventures of the noble knight-errant Don Quixote de La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain. This Modern Library edition presents the acclaimed Samuel Putnam translation of the epic tale, complete with notes, variant readings, and an Introduction by the translator.
About the Author
Carlos Fuentes is the author of more than a dozen novels, including The Years with Laura D?az
, The Old Gringo
, and The Death of Artemio Cruz
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Reading Group Guide
1. Don Quixote is often called the first modern novel. Do you agree? Why or why not?
2. Many critics have interpreted Don Quixote as a sustained exploration of madness. How is madness represented in the novel?
3. Italian literary critic Giovanni Papini famously argued in the early 1920s that "by virtue of [the power of Cervantes's genius] the shade of Don Quixote has succeeded in deceiving us. We have been led to think that his life was full of deception in the sense that he was himself deceived by carnivorous men, decadent times, and impossible books. His life was indeed full of deception, but he was himself the deceiver, and we of the succeeding generations have been the ones deceived." Papini suggests that generations of critics have idolized Quixote, held him up as a "martyr of pure, militant, and derided Christianity," when in fact the character is vain and proud, thinks only of earthly glory, and aspires to material conquests. He was not, Papini claims, mad at all, but merely pretended to be. What is your opinion of this argument?
4. Critics have debated the question of whether Cervantes's intention in Don Quixote was to ridicule the chivalric romances-which typically featured knights accomplishing the most impossible things-that were so popular in the Middle Ages. Northrop Frye, for instance, writes that "with every beating he gets, [Don Quixote's] dignity grows on us, and we realize how genuinely faithful he is to the code of chivalry. He is courteous, gentle, chaste, generous (except that he has no money), intelligent and cultured within the limits of his obsession, and, of course, courageous. Not only was the code of chivalry a real code that helped to hold a real civilization together, but these are real virtues, and would be if chivalry had never existed." Do you think the book repudiates chivalry?
5. In his 1935 book Don Quixote: An Introduction to Psychology, leading Spanish literary expert Salvador de Madariaga refers to what he calls the "sanchification" of Don Quixote and the "quixotification" of Sancho. How does each character affect the other?
6. Lionel Trilling once claimed that "All prose fiction is a variation of the theme of Don Quixote: . . . the problem of appearance and reality." Discuss.
7. The names of the main characters in the novel are not stable: for example, Don Quixote is variously called Quixada, Quesana, Quixana, Quixote, Jigote, Knight of the Mournful Countenance, and Knight of the Lions; Sancho's wife is known as Juana Guti?rrez, Mari Guti?rrez, Teresa Cascajo, Teresa Panza or Teresa Sancho, Teresaina, and Teresona. What is the significance of the change of name and why are the characters so concerned with coming up with etymologies (most of which are wrong) for explaining how another character has come to have a particular name?
8. Many readers have been disturbed by the fact that Don Quixote recovers his sanity before dying, instead of venturing forth again, as Sancho would have him do. How do you feel about his regaining his sanity? What do you think is the significance of it?
From the Trade Paperback edition.