Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Classics Club: December Meme


This was August 2012's meme question, and I completely missed it then; nonetheless, I am not sure I can honestly answer it now because it is only based on feelings, and feelings are not concrete. Yet, if I have to go on anything, it is how much I really miss reading a specific book.  

Lately, I have been reading really dark and heavy themes, like loss of freedom, imprisonment, and death; hence, I tend to long for something more uplifting, such as Pride and Prejudice, Huckleberry Finn, and Oliver Twist for their happy endings.  

But the one book that keeps nagging me the most - and the further away I get from it, the stronger the feeling - is Don Quixote by Cervantes.  It was the first book I read in my decision to read the classics. 

You have to understand that I was completely intimidated by the classics, including this one when I purchased it at a library book sale. I thought I would actually read it someday, but it sat on my shelf untouched.  

When I read The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and saw that Don Quixote was the first book on the novel list, I choked.  The book is 1050 pages.  Small print.  


It took me three months to read, but I did it and enjoyed it immensely.

Don Quixote was so enjoyable and not in any way intimidating.  It was hysterical and outlandish and ridiculously amusing.  But what attaches me to it the most is that I was fearful of it until I read it, and that made it more rewarding for me.  It was the first step in my long journey to studying the classics, and I hope someday to revisit it and enjoy it just as much.

Again, I cannot say with all certainty that it is my absolute favorite, but it is what is on my heart right now, and that can always change.

16 comments:

  1. You know, I never felt equal to reading DQ, but now I think I might be able to tackle it sometime. If I can read A Suitable Boy, I can read Don Quixote, right?

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    1. DQ will be a piece of cake for you, Jean.

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  2. I really enjoyed your approach to this question, Ruth. While I couldn't say Don Quixote is my favourite (I liked Part 1 better than Part 2), I know exactly what you mean about books that introduce you to the classics, and that now have a special place in your heart. The two that stand out for me are Pride and Prejudice and The Vicar of Wakefield. They were the two books that started my love for the classics. And, honestly, I think there are very few people who can pick just one favourite, which is why it is probably good to answer this question again and again.

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    1. It would be fun to evaluate every year what books are important personally, for whatever reason. It really says a lot about who you are, too.

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  3. Feelings are everything! Do you want a computed answer, or a human answer? :-) I had no idea Don Quixote was that good! I have avoided it due to fear...

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    1. I suppose if someone had to answer specific questions to determine their favorite books, then it may be different from the one that emotionally appeals to them.

      As for DQ: it was a fun, entertaining, lighthearted read. Nothing like I have had to read since.

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    2. Oh, I see what you mean: one book might be a treasured favorite for emotional reasons, while another (for example, my love of Emerson's Self-Reliance) might appeal to a reader on a more analytical level. Though, in my case, it's very difficult to separate emotion from analysis. I'm drawn to Emerson for both reasons. (And to Michel de Montaigne, who is renowned for his stoicism.) :-)

      I have to pipe up for emotion though: I'm Anne Shirley and Marianne Dashwood. :P ;-)

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    3. Yes, I was thinking that if I had questions to consider about what made a book my favorite compared to what made it a great book, they probably would be two different answers; but then I suppose the question was, "What is your favorite classic," not, "What is the best classic." Nonetheless, I think you are right: it is difficult to separate emotion from analysis.

      P.S. I still have to read Sense and Sensibility . . .

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  4. I have DQ - unread - on my shelf.
    I WILL read it one day, esp as I keep reading rave reviews like this which help to bump it up my mental TBR pile priority list!

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    1. That's so great! Thanks! It really is a light, fun read. Nothing heavy at all.

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  5. DQ is actually on my Classics Club list! I took it out from the library a bunch of years ago - I think I was twelve or thirteen years old - and ended up ignoring it. Then I auditioned for the musical version (Man of La Mancha) when I was fifteen, and promised myself that if I got in, I would read the book. I got in - and didn't keep my promise.
    So now that it's on my Classics Club list, I hope to read it soon! For some reason I remember it being huge - but maybe it was just hugely intimidating to my twelve-year old self.

    ~Sophia

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    1. Wow! That you even considered it at 12 is amazing. I can imagine that it was daunting at that age. As an adult, I did not even want to read it.

      Good for you that it is on your CC list. I look forward to reading your opinion of it.

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  6. DQ is on my to-read shelves too! Maybe 2014 will be the year. It, Moby Dick, and War and Peace are the three "classics" that I've been putting off for years and years -- maybe I should make it my goal to read all three before I'm 40! That gives me two years for each :-)

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    1. You can definitely do this. MD was not very long, and it was helpful that the chapters were short. It's the content that separates it from other novels; you don't get to the bulk of the story until the end. Nonetheless, do read it, if you can.



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    2. When I finish my read-throughs of both The Lord of the Rings and the Sherlock Holmes canon, I will start one of them! I have copies of MD and DQ, so probably will start with one of them.

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  7. I read DQ many years ago - and was amazed how readable and entertaining it is :)

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