Don Quixote is a middle-aged gentleman from the region of La Mancha in central Spain. Obsessed with the chivalrous ideals touted in the many books he has read, he decides to take up his lance and sword to defend the helpless and destroy the wicked. After a first failed adventure, he sets out on a second one with a somewhat befuddled laborer named Sancho Panza, whom he has persuaded to accompany him.
In many works, the experiences of a man like Don Quixote would probably appear tragic. He's repeatedly beaten, chased away, lied to, and misunderstood. But in the hands of Cervantes, these events are comic.
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Don Quixote is an established masterpiece of world literature, so there is no point in reviewing the work itself. This review concentrates on the qualities of the narrator and, to a lesser extent, the translation.
Audible has several other fine editions of the unabridged Quixote. So which one should you get? The answer is simple: get the one narrated by David Case.
Forget the negative reviews of the narrator. Those reviewers simply do not know what they are talking about. David Case, also known as Frederick Davidson (and many other names depending on what company he was recording for), is probably the best narrator ever to live. This is not only my opinion. Just google his name and you'll see that he has won more awards for narration than anyone else in the world with the possible exception of Sir Derek Jacobi. He was first ballot Audio File Hall of Fame narrator, "Golden Voice," as they say, with more than 700 narrations to his credit. A negative review of David Case reading is like a negative review of Magic Johnson playing basketball.
One negative review questions the use of a narrator with an English accent. That is just bizarre. What accent should they have used? A West Texas accent? Would a Spanish accent have been better? If so, then should Brothers Karamazov be read with a Russian accent, Magic Mountain with a German accent, etc.?
It is true that while David Case is an amazing narrator, this is not his finest performance. There are a few recording errors, and the quality is not quite up to modern standards--the recording was done in the 1980s.
Nonetheless, Case captures the contrasts in tone better than any other narrator could. And getting those contrasts right is essential to the humor of Don Quixote. What make the book so funny is that the main character's language is completely out of place with whatever circumstances he is in. Even though he is mad, he remains the quintessential straight man taking everything far too seriously and literally. The rich tones of Case's upper-class British accent are perfect here.
Not only does Case get the Don's voice pitch perfect, but he also gets Sancho absolutely spot on. I don't know enough about British accents, but he definitely uses a working class one for Sancho. Case's voice also perfectly captures subtleties like the cruelty of the Duke.
In conclusion, get this version for the narration alone.
Let's now turn to the translation briefly. The only negative here is that it is not the latest version. Case reads from Walter Starkie's 1957 translation--a very fine work, but probably not as good as Edith Grossman's. I first read Don Quixote using Starkie's translation. I am now reading Grossman's. My Spanish is now good enough to read Don Quixote (although with some difficulty) in the original, and Starkie's version seems fine to me. Very few people in the world would be able to tell a good translation of Don Quixote from a great one. I certainly cannot. You would not only need to be perfectly and equally fluent in English and Spanish, but also a pretty competent scholar in the Spanish of the early 17th Century. How many people can really say that?
So even though this reading is not in the (probably better) Grossman translation, you should still get this version.
I realize that this is a tough book to get through, but be assured that you will be rewarded if you stay with it. It is quite dense, but the beauty of this piece is at least as much in its richness of language as it is in the actual adventures. In fact, the encounters with windmills, and the likes, weren't that funny in my opinion. It is the human interactions that had me laughing out loud more times than I could count. Great book and a difinite masterpiece of literature. Cervantes' style and originality is truly impressive.
As far as the narration goes, I can see why some people don't like it, but I really grew to love it. The narrator does a fantastic job acting out the characters, adding color to the experience.
Probably not. It is VERY long.
Characters were unforgetable.
His voice renderings were brilliant and fully captured the personalities of each character. He must be a wonderful actor.
This story could never be made into a movie that would do it justice.
I started listening to this as a "labor of love." I ended up looking forward to every minute of it and am sorry it is over.
I enjoyed listening to this audiobook and will miss it when I have finished. The reader does take some getting use to; however, he has to perform several characters and maintain their voice through 30 plus hours. I especially like the voices used for both Don Quioxote's and Sancho Panza his squire. This is a master piece. Remember this story appeared in the 1600. I am amazed how many of the tales can be applied to people's behavior and reactions of the day. I am also amazed at the number of cliches and I often wonder if these were the first printing of something like "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" or if in translation, this cliche was updated into a common english version. This is not for the faint hearted listener, and does take some getting used to. I listen about an hour a day, going to and from work. Takes my mind off of my day, and reflect on what will be next adventure of Don Quixote and his loyal squire Sancho Panza.
I was very much looking forward to listening to this classic, but was compelled to stop after the first 5-hour segment. The narrator’s portrayal of the famous knight grated upon my nerves and did not make for an enjoyable diversion. It’s on this basis alone that I give a low-score for the rating.
Dox Quixote is the book that answers the question "what book would you take if stranded on an island". It is a masterpiece of literature, one of the last great epics.
WHY use an Englishman for a Spaniard's voice? I did not even get through an hour of this one. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY unless the narrators voice does not matter.
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