Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

29 CDs, 36:08:08 hours, and countless miles later…I’m finished. I made it through Don Quixote.
Deep sigh of contentment.
I will be honest, it was rough at times. Don Quixote and I did not always get along. The references to books of chivalry were often over my head and the audio format meant no handy footnotes of explanation. The plot got long winded and bombastic. Occasionally, I caught a particularly deep strand of hidden humor, but it was physically exhausting to puzzle out the meaning. In that sense, the audio was probably not the best format for this book. I couldn’t see it, re-read it, or tangibly grasp what I was missing. The story marched on, with or without me.
However, that is probably the only reason I finished at all. Every time I got in the car, the CDs were right there. All I had to do was listen. So I did.
It wasn’t a book I enjoyed while I was reading. Yet now that I done, I don’t find myself condemning it like I thought I would. In fact, as overwhelming as it was, I sense a level of brilliance to the overall story. I don’t fully grasp it, but I have a greater idea of why it is a classic. If I had stopped half way, I don’t think I would have reached this point of understanding. This book is a mixed bag. You have to put up with flowery poetry, random details, and breath-taking maidens at every corner, but in exchange you get the story of man fully convinced he is doing the right thing along with his dopey but witty companion.
The story of Don Quixote is the story of Sancho taking a dump and pretending it wasn’t him. It is the story of lovely maidens reunited with lovers, twisted pranks, and random plot tangents. It is an adventure and a romance and a comedy. It is dull and confusing and frustrating. There is little cohesion and yet the whole plot stands together, somehow.
I find I can easily say I enjoyed Don Quixote and Sancho now that I am done. However, I’m not sure I fully appreciate them. I think I might have to get a little more context and re-read it to say that. It was worth the time listening by audio, though, if for no other reason than it forced me to finish.

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