Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes (Volume I)

Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes (Volume I)

19.99

In a 2002 survey, of the world's leading writers (including Doris Lessing, Salman Rushdie, Nadine Gordimer, Wole Soyinka, Seamus Heaney, Carlos Fuentes and Norman Mailer), representing nearly every continent, selected Don Quixote as "the most meaningful book of all time". Nigerian-born Ben Okri said, "If there is one novel you should read before you die, it is Don Quixote, it has the most wonderful and elaborated story, yet it is simple." Beyond such consistent contemporary accolades, the author’s influence is so deeply rooted in Spanish Literature that one cannot write in Spanish without having Cervantes’ influence in mind. Don Quixote de la Mancha is in fact the first modern novel (Volume one was published in 1605, and Volume II, was published ten years later, in 1615) and holds the honor of being published literary work in the world after the bible. So as one can imagine it’s influence today stretches far beyond Spanish having significantly influenced the works of Nabokov to Borges, Fielding to Garcia Marquez.

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Don Quixote is broadly, a cautionary tale about a man who ruins himself and injures others with excessive credulity, optimism and romanticism. However, among the persistent charms of the book is Don Quixote’s ridiculous obsession with books on chivalry which can be adapted to anyone who accepts a mythical world and allow themselves to be guided by that belief. Sancho Panza, in contrast, is a representation of the sensible, realism based Spanish working-class. The dynamics of the relationship between Quixote and Panza would go on to influence the hero sidekick dynamic for centuries (i.e. Lone Ranger and Tonto, Dr. Who and various sober sidekicks, or Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

In reading Don Quixote you now join the ranks millions, including America's founding fathers, who have read and enjoyed Don Quixote, over a span of nearly four centuries. George Washington owned a 4 volume set of Don Quixote (still on display at Mount Vernon) and Thomas Jefferson taught himself while crossings the Atlantic in 1784, by means of a copy of Don Quixote and a borrowed Spanish grammar book. Jefferson would later press his daughters Martha and Mary read it as part of their Spanish curriculum. Benjamin Franklin, listed Don Quixote in the first catalogue of his Library Company, in 1741.

Dear sir: I have received your letters of the 29th of October and the 9th of Nov. The latter was handed to me by Colo. Henry Lee, with 4 Vols. of Don Quixote which you did me the honor to send to me. I consider them as a mark of your esteem which is highly pleasing to me, and which merits my warmest acknowledgment. I must therefore beg, my dear sir, that you will accept of my best thanks for them.”
— George Washington