Don Quixote Reading Challenge 2013

An invitation to read-a-long with me

Don Quixote Reading Challenge 2013

There’s a classic novel waiting for me to get past the first 50 pages. It’s Miguel de Cervantes’ The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (Edith Grossman’s translation). I bought the book a long time ago, it was the size of a large brick, impossible to carry around. At one stage I thought I’d break the book up into manageable sections, yes that’s right I was contemplating physically breaking the book apart, but I didn’t, I left it unfinished and gave up.  Now, technology has changed and I have the ebook on my Kindle, I’m ready to go. So why the challenge? I’m stuck.

Some days ago I enthusiastically read through Harold Bloom’s introduction. Then I read through Senor Cervantes’ Preface.  I contemplated how I felt a sense of history the first time I started the book, knowing the words were written over 400 years ago. Then I came to the first page of chapter one – poetry – and that’s where I stopped. Yes, I’m stuck but as someone once said, I’m not a tree, so I can’t be stuck.

Hence the challenge.  I needed some like minded people to read-a-long with me, so I can get past the barrier between classic-avoidance and one of the best and most important novels ever written (or so many many knowledgeable people say).

I want to travel along with the Don and learn what makes him and his side-kick so great and maybe pick-up some wise pointers. Join me in my journey along with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

The challenge is to read Don Quixote between 1st February and 30th November 2013 and write at least one comment, here at Artuccino, about your journey.

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19 comments on “Don Quixote Reading Challenge 2013
  1. JanetGS says:

    I would love to read Don Quixote–it’s been on my reading list for years. What works for me with books like this is the audio version. That’s how I read The Iliad, The Odyssey, Pilgrim’s Progress, and most recently, Dante’s Inferno. If left to my own devices, I will let myself be seduced by an easier-to-read book, but if I listen to the audio version whilst captive in my car, I will finish the work.

    I probably shouldn’t do this because I already have an ambitious reading list for 2013, but I can’t resist.

    • Welcome Janet! I’m finally progressing through the early stages of the book after deciding to skip the poetry at the beginning. I’ve combined my reading of the printed book with an audiobook and have progressed to page 65. I haven’t cracked the “classic-avoidance” barrier yet. (I too am constantly drawn away to read easier-to-read books – so my progress is slow but I know I’ll get there eventually.) I look forward to hearing about your progress.

  2. I’m still up for this, but I may have to start a little later in February. Do want to join in, so don’t forget me! 🙂

  3. I’ve not got very far yet but I’ve progressed a little. Thing is, because my reading has been stop-start, I’ve had to go back to when Don Quixote returns home after his first foray to recover and get some funds and an off-sider i.e. Sancho Panza. I was watching a set of lectures on “The Art of Reading” recently and the tutor’s advice was to have a reading session of approx one hour, to assist the reader get “into” the book. So this week I’ll set aside an hour for just that. I’m just constantly distracted by the cozy mysteries that I love. Recently I read all five of Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway mysteries – excellent fun read.

  4. I’m up to page 81 Chapter XII. Still struggling but it’s getting easier. My brain just doesn’t want to switch into Don Quixote/Cervantes speak, so I’ve decided to just read a chapter each day, for the moment, until the book becomes a page turner.

  5. fictional100 says:

    I have read Don Quixote before, in the Jarvis translation, but I have wanted to reread, with Edith Grossman’s excellent version (with the great red cover!), so your challenge may be just the push I need! Thanks!

    • Welcome fictional100! Hopefully you’ll find reading-a-long gives you, what people tell me, is a great read and some good company along the way. I felt I needed a few companionable readers to come with me on my journey. I look forward to hearing your thoughts as you read-a-long.

  6. I read Chapter XIV today, I’m up to page 102. That said, I have to admit I cheated a little. Half of the chapter was written as a poem and for whatever reason I’m unable to “get” poetry. I think when I see words written in verse on the page I suddenly develop a type of dyslexia. This lamentable problem shuts me out of a large portion of our literary inheritance. I read the poetry but the words don’t translate into my mind with meaning, they’re just disconnected words on a page. Oh well, the good news is, I’m OK with prose.

    I’m finding that I’m able to absorb the prose of Don Quixote if I read just one chapter a day until I get into the flow. The “flow” still feels a little bit out of my grasp for the moment. I console myself with the thought that the book was a serialised novel (at least I think it was) so I’m reading it as it was meant to be read, that is, a little bit at a time.

  7. I’m up to page 116, Chapter XVII which continues the account of the innumerable difficulties that the brave Don Quixote and his good squire, Sancho Panza, experienced in the inn that, to his misfortune, he thought was a castle.

  8. I’m going great guns, reaching chapter XVIII today which relates the words that passed between Sancho Panza and his master, Don Quixote, and other adventures that deserve to be recounted. I feel like I’m nearly dancing in tune with this story.

  9. Moving right along – I’m up to chapter XIX, page 134, regarding the discerning words that Sancho exchanged with his master, and the adventure he had with a dead body, as well as other famous events.

  10. I’ve reached chapter XXII, page 163, regarding the liberty that Don Quixote gave to many unfortunate men who, against their wills, were being taken where they did not wish to go.

  11. Did you know that the Mitchell Library (State Library of New South Wales) holds a collection of 1,100 editions of Don Quixote, in several languages dating back to 1620, from the magnificent collection of the late Dr Ben Haneman?

  12. Now that I’ve cracked the 150 page mark, that is, I’ve reached page 163, maybe I should share my thoughts about the story. So far I think it’s a “silly” story. I should also add that I think Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is silly too. I’m not regretful that my serious reading choice for 2013 is Don Quixote. (Strange I refer to a “silly” story, a comedic story, as a serious read. It’s serious for me because it’s a struggle to read it.) It’s a book I’ve had on my list for a long time, it’s on my classics list because I want to expand my reading horizons beyond the easy to read, entertainers. A couple of years ago I did an evening class on the subject of “The Art of Reading” and it was at that time I decided to choose a classic from the enormous list of “important” books. A new translation of Don Quixote had just been published, the Edith Grossman translation, and there was a lot of buzz about it. So it became my choice. The first problem was its physical size, it was the size of a house brick not practical to lug it around so it went onto the bookshelf for several years. Now, years later the situation has changed, the reading world has changed, I’m an avid follower of book bloggers who inspire me to once again tread the “classics” path, so with the help of an eBook reader (Kindle) and an audiobook ( I’ve got no excuse. So one chapter a day, until I’ve finished will mean I have experienced a story considered “important”. Along the way I may discover WHY it’s “important” and at the very least my reading muscle will get stronger.

  13. As mentioned previously my intention is to read a chapter each day – unfortunately my reading muscle is becoming resistant – I skipped a couple of days. Today I reached chapter XXVII, page 212, concerning how the priest and the barber carried out their plan, along with other matters worthy of being recounted in this great history.

  14. JaneGS says:

    I finally got the copy I had on reserve at my library and started listening to it last week. I couldn’t even get through the first disk. My mind would not stop wandering and I felt like I was simply wasting my time. I’m going to get a paper copy or Kindle copy and try it again. Usually books like this work best for me as audio books, but I just simply couldn’t focus or care what was being said!

    • Hi JaneGS! It’s good to hear how you’re travelling with the Don. I thought listening to the story would assist with my progress too. I listen to audiobooks when I do my daily hour walk through the lovely leafy streets near my home. I found that my mind would not co-operate, that is, it wandered off and when my attention returned to the story I knew I’d missed something. On arriving home I re-read the chapter in the ebook. Over the next few days I read a chapter each day, and then I went on holidays to Brisbane for a few days and my “child-within” screamed NO NO NOT THE DON, read the Maisie Dobbs mystery so you can find out what happened next. So I did! I’m up to book 2 of 9. Oh the contrast between the two reading experiences. I haven’t given up on the Don yet but I’m very close. I will be so disappointed with myself, it’s like a mountain I said I’d climb so I must climb, and hey there’s a whole year put aside to finish Don Quixote BUT! That said, I look forward to hearing about your ongoing progress, hopefully you’re enjoying it more than I.

  15. I’m sorry to say I’ve abandoned this reading challenge. I gave it my “best” shot. Don Quixote does not hold my interest. Onward and forward to other books crying out to be read. Life is much too short to use precious reading time on books that don’t do that special mystical thing books can do.

    Challenge abandoned!