(P)1998 Blackstone Audiobooks
I was a little apprehensions about the length of this "book" and due to some of the comments about the narration. After having given it one listen I can attest to the quality of the narration and to the fact that it uses a good translation (Tobias Smollet) which I thoroughly enjoyed especially due to the "Shakespearean" quality of the text. The narration is very well done using different voice characterizations and a variety of British accents to differentiate each character. Very funny. "You are in the right, friend Sancho."
I was a little hesitant to invest 36 hours but am certainly glad that I did. The book is just remarkable. In places (mainly from Sancho) it is laugh out loud funny. Published some 400 years ago it is the most modern of novels, both self referential and in the second part attacking a false sequel.
The narration is excellent with clear, differeing voices for the main characters.
Written in the early 1600s, Miguel Cervantes' novel about the delusional knight's adventures has become a classic staple of historic literature.
Don Quixote is a middle-aged man who, having read too many chivalric novels, actually believes he is a knight and sets out on his adventures. He is aided by his trusted squire, Sancho Panza, to whom Don Quixote has promised an island over which to rule once he completes his adventures and wins over his only love, Dulcinea.
The adventures which follow are exciting and entertaining. Don Quixote charges at windmills, mistaking them to be giants. He mistakes a country wench to be Dulcinea who has been enchanted by an evil magician's spell in order to look like a country wench. In short, he can't distinguish reality from his fantasy.
This novel is long, and unless you're a classic literature buff, you can get away with the abridged version. What makes the book such a classic is the complexity of the characters. Don Quixote isn't insane all the time--there are times when he seems to know more about reality than he lets on. Sancho Panza seems like an idiot for following Don Quixote around, yet Sancho goes back and forth between criticizing his master's idiotic notions and adoring some of them as well.
Moreover, the source of Don Quixote's madness is his obsession with books on chivalry. Yet this book itself is a story about a chivalric knight. By taking this story's message to heart, aren't we committing the same errors as Don Quixote did with his novels?
I liked Robert Whitfield's narration, especially his depiction of Sancho Panza. He made it easy to follow despite a large cast of characters.
To only see Don Quixote de la Mancha as merely a book of humour, simply a manifestation of belly-laughs (which it does provide in abundance), would be seeing just the very fringe of its brilliance. What would be missed? Missing would be Cervantes as one the shrewdest observers of human nature ever.
Don Quixote seems a book running full-tilt at phantoms that have no existence, save in Quixote and even Sancho's imaginations. But the truth is, this book touches at the imaginings, and mines at the characters of us all. Don Quixote opens the window to all experiences, real or imagined, of existence -- our existence. Sancho is the first filter, the first critic of that experience, seventeenth-century Spain the second, and we, dear reader, the third. In this last taking we become the co-dependant Quixote and Sancho looking through the mirror; measuring the world amongst the impractical, the idealistic, the fanciful, and the truest of all illusions -- reality.
Still not said is the Cervantes' plays within plays, adroit social comment, and the author's cutting jibes at pretense. (And of course his broadsides at the pretenders to the True History of Don Quixote.) These departures present themselves carefully -- although sometimes abruptly -- as soliloquies, cutting criticism, contemplative moments, sonorous stories, and even as novels. In this, Cervantes is always intentional in leaving us wedded to the Adventure, while implementing these punctuating asides to incite and motivate our viewpoint.
Perhaps the greatest book ever written.
As to the reader of Don Quixote, Robert Whitfield? I would listen to him read the phonebook. Perfection!
I was amazed at the wonderful, accurate translation into English of this masterwork of Spanish literature, not to mention the excellent reading by Robert Whitfield. An Audible book that is worth keeping for enjoyment during one's whole life.
One of the distinctive things about "Don Quixote" is its episodic structure. The Knight wanders around the Spanish countryside, mistaking everything for enchantment, running into thieves and shepherds and shepherdesses, extolling the virtues of love and the honor of his profession. (Two minutes later, of course, he's flat on his back and Sancho is running for cover.) The narrative is richly textured: four hundred years before "Inception," Cervantes mastered the trick of embedding a tale within a tale within a tale -- and maintaining perfect artistic control throughout.
Fortunately, with Robert Whitfield's outstanding narration (Whitfield is actually Simon Vance), this all goes down smoothly and easily, like chocolate ice cream. The tone varies from incident to incident, but the pace remains steady, a kind of comfortable jog through the woods. It took me several weeks of listening on and off to finish it, but it was time well spent: I can say without hesitation that it's one of the most enjoyable audiobooks I've ever listened to.
Don Quixote is the butt of many jokes in the book, but in some ways he has the last laugh. Cervantes refuses to pigeonhole any of his characters: Quixote is a fool and a clown AND a truly decent and honorable man. His simple goodness puts the elaborate courtly behavior of others to shame. His favorite term for addressing his squire (at least in this translation) is "Friend Sancho."
If you're familiar with "Man of La Mancha," you mostly know the first half of the book. The second half contains many surprises. Among other things, Sancho finally gets a chance to govern his "island," and though his government comes to a calamitous end, his rough-and-ready country wisdom has plenty to recommend it.
The translation is by Tobias Smollett. It's a little old-fashioned but still reasonably brisk and easy to follow: from a prose standpoint, this is the period of James Boswell and Thomas Jefferson: not a huge stretch.
Poet, Writer, Novice Planetary Scientist, Musician, Hooligan, Former Audience Guy, Protector of Stupid Princesses.
If you haven’t read/listened to Don Quixote, it is worth the time to do so. Fighting windmills is over and done with right away, leaving a whole lot of adventure (and even more rhetorical digressions) for you to discover. I felt like I was listening to Moby Dick meets the Divine Comedy. I didn't get most of the inside and political jokes, and with an audiobook you don’t have footnotes. But I did the same with Dante, and didn’t really feel cheated. You don’t need to know who someone is, I think, if they are insulted with enough wit. I also learned that “At night all cats are gray.” Words to live by. I think I want to buy a copy in Spanish so I can look at some of Sancho’s quotes. Had Frodo taken Sancho instead of Sam, he’d have been in big big trouble. (Just had to point this out. It kept occurring to me all through the story.) I’m very glad I spent the time to listen to Don Quixote. I would complain about the ending, but considering that the day, age, and powers that were, I’ll leave well enough alone. The narration and accents were wonderful, and really helped keep my attention during some of the digressions.
Don Quioxote is well worth listening to and Robert Whitfield does and excellent job as a narrator. His voices are engaging and the story is told with entertaining inflections that capture the tale and bring it to life. The novel Don Quioxote manages to combine kings, queens, castles and dragons with a sense of morality and civic responsibility in a style not unlike Dickens. Miguel de Cervantes creates characters that embody virtues that challenge some of the accepted concepts of that time, and as an author pontificates a little about his own observations much as Dickens does in some of his own novels. As a side note: There is also an underlying theme of the existance of God and acceptance of Catholicism on the part of all the main characters in the novel.
If there had been a novel written by the same author who wrote the Shakespeare plays this would be it. Above all novels this one stands as a supreme example of human artistic accomplishment. The performance by Robert Whitfield in this recording is very well done. His voice truly becomes the character of Don Quixote as you imagine him on his fantastic adventures, and his rendering of Sancho Panza is hilarious. Highly recommended!
This book is beset with such self-aware witticism that it makes today's comedian/writers look like Sancho Panza. That is, nothing is out of place, every situation serves its purpose, and all of the humor integrates into a single guffaw aimed directly at the heart of existence.
Throw away your face and get ready for a supra-genius.
"Much stranger than I thought"
This is a good rather than great reading of a fascinating text. We all think we know Don Quixote, but the novel is much stranger than I expected, full of meandering digressions and stories within the story. I usually like digressive fiction (hell, I write it!), but here I was desperate to get back to the main narrative of Don Quixote and Sancho. I haven't the space or the time to give a detailed critique of the novel, but I can say that it's one of those that I'm very glad to have read, rather than one I've loved reading. The translation here is the one by Smollett. It's (of course) very old fashioned, but at least you are getting two great writers for the price of one.
"A long listen, but an utterly worthwhile one"
I would rank Don Quixote highly among the other audiobooks to which I have listened. While the story at time goes off on massive tangents, the characters and their classic encounters make this an essential listen. The story has a bit of everything; it is by turns a comedy, a romance, an adventure, a drama, and ultimately a poignant tale of friendship. This translation, by Tobias Smollett, is written in a robust and lyrical style. I felt this suited the narrative, though I understand it may not be to everyone's taste.
Sancho Panza. The only real choices here are Sancho or Don Quixote himself, and of the two, Sacho is by far the better character. He is the real heart and soul of the story.
I have never listened to Robert Whitfield before but I was most impressed with his performance. I loved the voices he gave to the main characters and his performance was delivered with great energy and wit.
It's as big as the bible, so no! However - and this isn't a criticism of the audiobook, but of the book in general - there are vast sections of text which could be lost and it would only benefit the novel.
Overall, this is a great book, and deserving of its place in literary history. However, there is no denying that it is far too long in places. For this reason I have only given it four stars for story, as it really did try my patience at time. However, once you get past that, you are in for a real treat.
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