Don Quixote: Initial Thoughts

The subject of this piece has no relationship with Jersey City. No relationship with New Jersey. Except the subject might be found in a bookstore, a library, or a dusty bookcase and that many New Jerseyans speak the tongue of the author.

A few times every year, I try to tackle one of the great, big books of world literature. These books form the bedrock of our common civilization and culture. This summer, I rummaged through one of the many collections of books scattered throughout my wife’s and my home (no room is without books) and picked up a paperback which I bought nearly two decades ago at a bookshop that closed its doors in the early 2000s.

Don Quixote in his library, illustration by Gustave Doré, 1863 (Courtesy We Heart Illustration).
Don Quixote in his library, illustration by Gustave Doré, 1863 (Courtesy  of We Heart Illustration).

Then, I opened the cover of Don Quixote, the masterpiece of Miguel de Cervantes and the first novel in Western literature. I have yet to put it down.

First, I laughed at the misadventures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza and the mad fantasies of the famous knight-errant. Now, I admire Don Quixote, viewing him as a figure who chose to reject the ugliness, the cruelty, and the shallowness of the world but instead saw it as a place of beauty, heroism, and enchantment. Through the character of Don Quixote, we glimpse the wonder and surprise still very much possible in the world, if we only allow ourselves to experience it.

These are my soft impressions of Don Quixote—the book, not the man—and several hundred pages still await my imagination. My thoughts and opinions might changed when I finish the novel, but my recommendation certainly will not.

If you’re looking for something to read, pick up Don Quixote. You’ll quickly learn why people have been enjoying this book for over four hundred years.

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