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Don Quixote

By: Edith Grossman - translator, Miguel de Cervantes
Narrated by: George Guidall
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Editorial review

By Seth Hartman, Audible Editor


I was introduced to the epic journey of Don Quixote in my 10th-grade English class. Being no stranger to stories of wandering heroes (stuff like The Odyssey and Gilgamesh), I thought I knew what to expect. The summary evoked images of knights, dragons, and fair maidens, so this book seemed to be a standard dose of medieval-style fantasy. What I got when I cracked open Don Quixote was certainly fantastical, but unlike any fiction I had experienced before it.

This legend begins with Alonso Quixano, a somewhat wealthy but otherwise average man with big dreams. Inspired by the romantic exploits of knights, he assumes the moniker "Don Quixote de la Mancha" and dons an ill-fitting, creaky set of armor. Riding his old work horse Rocinante, he decides that he is going to begin an epic quest for the favor of Dulcinea, a fair maiden he conjured up out of thin air. On his journey, Don Quixote creates fantasy after fantasy, clinging desperately to the image of a knight that he invented for himself.

This story does not only take place from the perspective of a delusional man, however. On his travels, Don Quixote enlists the help of a peasant named Sancho Panza, promising him his own castle and riches beyond his wildest imagination. Sancho quickly sees the truth of the matter, almost pitying the Don for his lofty pipe dreams. Yet eventually, he gets wrapped up in the fantasy too, hoping against his better logic that this quest will work out for them both.

While some people see Don Quixote as a warning to keep both feet in the real world, I see things a bit differently. Despite his obvious delusions of grandeur, I think there is something noble about this quest. Don Quixote is a man who is willing to believe in himself no matter the cost, and he even endures ridicule and beatings for sticking to his beliefs. Yes, it is crazy to think that windmills could be vicious giants, but isn’t there something poetic about his commitment to a heightened reality?

While this work stands as a complete subversion of stories like The Knights of the Round Table, it is important that we continue to look to Don Quixote for inspiration. The audiobook adds yet another element, with veteran narrator George Guidall’s versatile diction creating a new sense of depth. Yes, this story is silly, absurd, and, at times, downright sad, but isn’t life the same way sometimes? Don Quixote reminds us that, no matter our current circumstances, we can always hope for more.

Continue reading Seth's review >

Publisher's summary

Don Quixote is the classic story. Called the first modern novel, this marvelous book has stood the test of time to become irrevocably intertwined with the fabric of society. Sixteenth-century Spanish gentleman Don Quixote, fed by his own delusional fantasies, takes to the road in search of chivalrous adventures. But his quest leads to more trouble than triumph. At once humorous, romantic, and sad, Don Quixote is a literary landmark. This fresh edition, by award-winning translator Edith Grossman, brings the tale to life as never before.

©2003 Edith Grossman (translation) (P)2003 Recorded Books

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