The most influential work of the entire Spanish literary canon and a founding work of modern Western literature, Don Quixote is also one of the greatest works ever written. Hugely entertaining but also moving at times, this episodic novel is built on the fantasy life of one Alonso Quixano, who lives with his niece and housekeeper in La Mancha. Quixano, obsessed by tales of knight errantry, renames himself "Don Quixote" and, with his faithful servant Sancho Panza, goes on a series of quests. Many of these adventures, including tilting at windmills, are established in European literary consciousness.
Originally published in two volumes a decade apart (in 1605 and 1615), Don Quixote has been brought to life in its entirety in this audiobook.
Public Domain (P)2011 Naxos AudioBooks
I didn't know much of anything about this book. If I had listened to it by itself, my take on it would probably be that it is funny, but way too long, and not much more. I enjoyed it much more than that because I decided to listen to a Yale course online (which is free) as I listened to the book. Each lesson gives the professor's take on the chapters assigned. I highly recommend this for those who aren't already very familiar with the book and its significance. You can google the audio course if you're interested, search Cervantes' Don Quixote with Professor Roberto González Echevarría.
I would never have thought I'd enjoy a book about a madman wandering around Spain in Shakespearean times so much, but I found myself looking forward to every listening session then smiling and chuckling throughout. The narrator brought the characters to life, the best I've heard.
I'll certainly listen again. This is the best audiobook I have ever listened to. The performance by Roy McMillan is unbeatable. I cannot recommend this enough.
It's Quixote. The best novel in the world.
McMillan's performances of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are pitch-perfect. He understands the characters from within. The host of minor characters is also excellently done. McMillan is a versatile and wonderfully entertaining reader.
Quixote encountering his beloved Dulcinea in the shape of a village wench stinking of garlic.
Long ago in my undergrad days I blew by Don Quixote in a survey course. To a mind not very attuned to thick books and partial to any explanation that would make the test easier, believing that Cervantes had penned nothing more than a multi-volume diatribe against those iniquitous chivalric romances was a cinch.
Such an oversimplification served my purposes: first, to identify Cervantes’ proper place on the flowchart of “Those Who Have Contributed to the Creation of the Modern Novel”. Second: to get a passing grade, graduate and get a job and a place of my own.
Over the years, however, I’ve often wondered how any writer, no matter how gifted, could stretch such an indictment over some 900-some-odd pages and still manage to achieve a work that would be reverenced and relished for 400 years. When Audible put Don Quixote on sale in February of 2011, I decided to see—or rather, hear—what Cervantes had really written.
Before I did, however, I decided to immerse myself in the romances that were supposedly Cervantes’ target. I read all of Chretien de Troyes. I read Beroul. And Gotfried von Straussburg’s, Wolfram von Eschenbach and Hartmann von Aue.
I discovered works that were a joy to read. Works that captivated the imagination, that even played with and parodied the very genre they were establishing. So far from finding dusty books worthy of contempt, I found vivid invention and vigorous writing. And in the first dozen minutes of Don Quixote I discovered I had been reading the wrong romances.
Cervantes’ target seems to be the later romances written just before his time, chiefly the Amadis of Gaul and Orlando Furioso. I’ve never read Amadis, but years ago I did get Orlando under my belt and enjoyed the hell out of it. I began to wonder if the whole indictment of chivalric romances was just a device to tell a great story.
No matter what his motivation, we should all be glad he did set pen to paper. I rank Don Quixote with Tom Jones and Pickwick Papers as the three of books I’d choose if cast upon a desert island (not that that’s likely to ever happen). It never ceases to delight. And now that’s it’s over I miss it terribly. Seriously. Most of the credit goes to Cervantes, but the reader Roy McMillan deserves his share as well. His easy tone, light manner and perfect diction make him the ideal travelling companion for this ride.
Oddly enough, the book gives the same kind of pleasure as those romances it lampoons. In this guided tour of life in early 17th Century Spain, you never know what’s going to happen around the next corner. Is the stranger at the inn a villain or a saint? Is the shepherd singing on the hillside a man or a woman? Is the fantastic story they tell true or false? Is the popularity of the first volume of the book, which we find recorded in the second, a tweak at the reading public who consume such improbable works as Amadis of Gaul so avidly?
And of course there’s the ultimate, overarching question that seems to hold the book together: is Don Quixote mad or sane?
Though the book ends with a vigorous diatribe against chivalric romances, the hero (or anti-hero, if you go that way) could not be more sympathetic and likeable. When not smashing puppet shows or liberating condemned cutthroats he is full of good sense and rounded phrases. His “achievements” (battling with windmills and wineskins, for example) make him famous throughout Spain and indeed Europe—not because they are real achievements, of course, but because the book that records those deeds gives such delight.
Maybe that’s why Don Quixote deserves its central place in the “Who-Created-the-Modern-Novel” flow chart: because Cervantes shows us that real life, our ordinary existence, can be as enchanted and improbable as any romance.
Thanks for offering Don Quixote - never would have made it through without Audible. A great book. Not a modern translation, but a great performance.
I LOVED this book! I enjoy the classics, but had not read Don Quixote before listening to this Audible version. It is an absolutely wonderful book, is laugh out loud funny, and the narrator did an extraordinary job making all the characters come to life. Be prepared to use the bookmark feature often, you'll definitely want to go back to the funniest parts!
Funny, endearing, engrossing
Don Quixote's encounter with the sheep is one of many that I have enjoyed so far, but much of the book is still ahead of me.
Hard to say as there are so many, but I loved the line where the Don was described as retiring to bed after one of their adventures to dream of his fair Dulcinea while Sancho Panza retired to his 'like a man who had been soundly beaten'.
The gentle satire makes me smile and occasionally laugh out loud. At the same time I am torn between feeling that something must be done to curtail the activities of this would be knight who is roaming around inflicting real damage on imagined opponents and a dread that he will be rounded up and diminished by the collapse of his illusions.
This is a great book, not just by reputation but in reality and I am grateful to Audible books for making it accessible to me. Cervantes has created a memorable character in the Don. He is both demented and truly noble, possessing a dignity that mysteriously is not touched by the absurdity of his actions and beliefs. His unfailing optimism and self belief in the face of constant setbacks is quite wonderful. I feel Cervantes has an enormous affection for him and for all the other characters of his world. It would be hard to imagine the book being read aloud better than it is by Roy McMillan. The subtle differences of class, attitude etc between characters when they speak are clearly expressed and the reader's tone conveys the humour in a tongue in cheek style that is never laboured.
This is one of literature's classic works, ushering in a new era of literature. Roy McMillan reads it excellently, rendering many of the regional Spanish dialects into an appropriate analogue from the British Isles: the goat herders have a Welsh accent, for example.
I took advice from one of the other Audible reviews, and listened in conjunction with Yale University's literature course by Professor González Echevarría, who places the book into the important context of the contemporary literary styles it references and parodies.
The two 'volumes' were published ten years apart, and are therefore quite distinct in style. The first volume in particular has rather too many side-stories irrelevant to the main plot. For this reason, an abridged version might be preferable.
Absolutely. Roy McMillan does an amazing job of bringing Don Quixote and Sancho Panza to life with a very entertaining narrative.
This is a classic that should be in everyone's Audible library.
Take your pick. Every adventure of Don Quixote will make you smile. Sancho Panza is a great compliment, with his witty banter and misadventures, to the story. The interaction between the two is enjoyable from start to finish.
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are the perfect expressions of their characters. Roy keeps the readers engaged and entertained throughout the story.
The narrator did a great job making the story come to life.
It was just so long, and ultimately the half dozen interesting parts could not offset the dozens of boring parts. I found myself dozing as I listened.
"The Mother and Father of all novels"
Although I have a dread of dusty old fiction, curiousness overcame caution and I downloaded this book. I am very glad that I did. Not only is the story itself bewitching, the narration is outstanding. This is the only audio book which I have listened to a second time for the pure pleasure of it. A true comic masterpiece, peppered with wit, wisdom, foolishness and absurdity in perfect balance. Roy McMillan's pace and intonation are perfect for the tale too.
"An excellent listen."
Excellent narration brings this epic tale to life. I really enjoyed the flair and verve with which the book was read.
"Probably/Possible the Greatest Book ever?!"
The quality pf the story is incomparable. The reading by Roy McMillan is - what can I say? Outstanding does not cover it. I am not a wordsmith or I would find the right word - as many others have said - Roy brings this book to life. I could have read it myself and had a much inferior experience.
I think that DQ offers an insight into humanity which is as great as a select few works of fiction. It is full of Spanish sensibility but it is also just as mind provoking as a modernist icon like Ulysses. DQ, the man, is counterparted by Sancho's realism. But then DQ is full of a sense himself. He is viewed as a fool but also as a man of sense by his contemporaries.
The book develops a perspective of 'celebrity; because DQ's adventures as a knight errant which start as hopeless and irrational are written about and DQ and Sancho acquire 'fictional' counterparts .Then socially prominent individuals begin to engage with the real DQ and Sancho as 'real people' and also with DQ and Sancho the 'irrational' and 'legendary' characters! It is bewildering and exhilarating and of course it provokes reflection on what is 'irrational' and what is 'realistic?' I am old enough to remember when people who were worried about the earth and conservation were 'hippies,' and when vegetarianism was seen as a 'fad.' These are now mainstream schools of thought and DQ, the work holds up a mirror to conventionalism and shows it wanting.
What is mad about being idealistic? Are realists admirable?Or just lazy people who settle for less because they lack energy and creativity? There is also a very modern self consciousness about creating a text (because of the layers of narration) and how a text and I suppose - a life - escapes the 'control' of the 'author/human?!' What a wonderful book.
Roy McMillan, as many have said, has voiced the characters in this complex book in a wonderful way. I can hear the voices as I write this and I finished the book 4 weeks ago. Roy is a brilliant narrator like Neville Jason in War and Peace. I could never have had the experience I have had just by reading. There are some 'tough' points to this book - there are some extensive 'cataloguing' pages about every knight errant that ever lived for example and if I never hear the name of 'Amadis of Gaul' again - it will be too soon! But the range of characterisations, the sense of humanity is just not to be missed.
Nothing to do with 'Man of La Mancha!' or anything to do with windmills.. I would be a bit dour and I suppose too boring but I would want to say something about an essential contribution from Spain towards understanding and valuing of our common humanity. This would be a film that uplifts you in understanding your fellow human.
But - actually - don't waste your time - it is too subtle and important to be a film - just listen to the book!
As previous commentators have remarked - it is a slow burn at first. Stick with it through the cataloguing of heroes of chivalry, books of chivalry and the more absurdist episodes such as the windmills etc. They almost lay the basis for the picaresque tales within tales and then you will experience the unravelling of DQ, the man as a human and the endlessly admirable and loveable Sancho - a true 'everyman.' I now have some of Sancho's proverbs by heart and whilst they madden DQ - I enjoy them very much - after all - 'St Peter is well in Rome! Oh - and I shouldn't miss a shout-out for 'Roscinante' and 'Dapple!'
By the next stage of the book you are questioning who the 'mad' are.. the gentlemanly classes are shown up as they try to fool with DQ who actually has many admirable human qualities and you willl learn to value Sancho ( especially as a governor) , the Curate, the Barber and the inimitable Bachelor Carasco as representatives of the disinterested kindness that humanity can be capable of in its sense of community and friendship.
I have found this book a deeply uplifting experience.For those who have read it - there is a free course on Yale on the i-net which expertly analyses the work. This is a great Spanish (amongst many from that wonderful country) contribution to world culture. Thanks
"A lot more entertaining than I expected"
Maybe not, because it's very long, but I'm glad I listened to it this time. It's a lot funnier than I expected. I had always assumed it was about this very courageous, serious character but Don Quixote turns out to be a loveable but deluded figure of comedy and the author spends the entire book taking the p out of him in the nicest of ways.
Roy McMillan really brought the story and characters to life with different voices and accents; I can guarantee I would not have found it anywhere near as funny had I been reading the dialogue on the page.
I find it easy to listen while driving or on the bus, I cannot read on public transport or in the car it makes me feel sick. Easy listening!
I have enjoyed listening to this and have picked up on references to the characters in all sorts of places, I did not understand these before but now feel quite pleased with myself
They are all interesting characters, all adding to the whole.
"A Worthwhile, Rewarding Experience"
If you are even considering listening to this book, or worried about the length, I can honestly say to go for it, this has been a hugely enjoyable experience. As with any audio book, the narration can make a massive difference to the enjoyment of the book, here Roy McMillan is at his best, I know feel like I really know Don Quiote and Sancho Panza and they have living voices in my head and every time I now think back to the book there is always some new adventure I remember the duo went on. Don't get my wrong, this is a LONG book (perhaps the better value for it) and I felt slightly weary around the 20 hour mark knowing how long I had to go. However, after experiencing their lives together for 35 hours I felt a real sadness at it coming to a conclusion and didn't want it to end. I feel this above all is testament to the enjoyment I found in the novel and in the narration. I would recommend this to anyone, the characters are engaging and the reading excellent. 5*'s
"What happens when you read too many books"
My readings of Don Quixote were patchy and, as a curious storyteller, I wanted to fill in the gaps.I couldn't have done better than choose this audiobook. Don Quixote, his head filled with idealism and fantasy from reading too many books on chivalry, is accompanied on his adventures by Sancho Panza, stolid and down to earth, a marvellous comic partnership, Roy McMillan is a jaunty,affectionate narrator who brings the characters, farce, enchantments, combats, wounds, courtships torments and foolishnesses to life. There are nevertheless repetitions and slownesses, especially in the early stages, but when the story is so well narrated that is forgiven .The seemingly endless string of episodes becomes addictive. It is like The Canterbury Tales or The Arabian Nights. The second half of the book really takes off with one rollicking encounter after another and I found it hard to press pause.
"Worth the effort"
When I started listening to this book I regretted getting it straight away. I found it hard to get into, but eventually I realised how good it was; and now I've listened to it a couple of times.
"long and dull"
I listen to a lot of classics and this book is hailed as the greatest ever written. I found it tedious and dull. I like long books normally but this dragged. The narrator did a decent job but the book was just not good.
"A wonderful and witty saga read so well by Roy McMillan"
It's not for nothing that this classic has stood the test of time. You are transported to another world and another culture where the pace of life is slower and where storytelling is part of the fabric of life. The characters are so varied and engaging and the sense of right and wrong clearer than today. There's plenty of wit and humour and now and again great pathos too. A book unlike any other I've read or listened to.
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