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Book Review: Don Quixote

2020-04-18

I will say that you should definitely read Don Quixote by Cervantes. You should put your other reading plans on hold, quit your job, skip meals, neglect your responsibilities, and read the story of Don Quixote as soon as possible.

My normal go-to “favorite book” that I usually dredge up when occasionally asked is Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, but Don Quixote is a serious contender now to take its place.

I like to think that I’ve read some good books so far in my life, ranging from the highly literary work of Stephen King and John Grisham to cheap thrillers like For Whom the Bell Tolls. Don Quixote tops all of them for me. It was an incredibly fun book to read. The fact that a novel written hundreds of years ago is as funny as it is says something about how good a work it is.

Hands down it is the funniest book I have ever read. I can’t even think of anything that comes close, maybe Breakfast of Champions by Vonnegut? It’s kind of rare to read a book that has you laughing the whole way through, but Don Quixote is that book.

It tells the story of Don Quixote, who, having read countless tales of knight-errantry and chivalry, takes up the task to defend the helpless in the name of his lady Dulcinea del Toboso. Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s squire, taken in by the promise of becoming the governor of an island, shares in the adventures and enchantements.

And the enchantments are many:

‘Look here, Sancho,’ said Don Quixote, ‘I swear to you by the same oath you have just sworn to me that you are the most dim-witted squire there ever was. Is it possible that in all the time you have been with me you have failed to realize that all things appertaining to us knights errant seem like chimeras, follies, and nonsenses, because they have all been turned on their head? Not because that is their real state, but because we are always attended by a crew of enchanters who keep transforming everything and changing it into whatever they like, according to whether they have a mind to help us or destroy us; and so what looks to you like a barber’s basin looks to me like Mambrino’s helmet and will look like something else to another person. And the sage who is on my side showed rare foresight in making everyone take what is really and truly Mambrino’s helmet for a barber’s basin, because Mambrino’s helmet is so highly esteemed that everyone would otherwise have pursued me to try to take it from me…’

Through nearly 1000 pages we’re treated to these enchantments as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza pursue their most noble mission of knight-errantry.

It’s a great read. I didn’t know a book could be this funny.