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The Complete Don Quixote (Eye Classics) Hardcover – May 7, 2013
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I got a kick out of it. It’s a fast, very enjoyable read. There’s relatively little narration —Davis did an admirable job of translating what had been narration in the original into dialog in the graphic novel, losing relatively little of the feel along the way. One odd, but I thought benign, touch was to update the dialog of the characters other than Quixote — Quixote speaks much as he did in the original, while supporting characters, including Sancho Panza, speak in more modern colloquial speech. I found it helped the story to move along, feel less stilted, and, while you could say it is in some way inauthentic, it fits some of the elements of temporal disconnection in the original. Besides . . . it’s a graphic novel, not the original — it can be only just so authentic.
I liked the artistic style as well. Davis mixes long views and tight closeups to match narration, dialog, and characters’ thoughts. Stories within the story are given distinctive styles of their own. The drawing is simple but expressive, I thought. No super-realism, no over-the-top, disorienting action, just the story, with the kind of character representations you would expect if you are familiar with the story.
With all graphic novel treatments of classics, you have to be aware that what you are reading is no substitute for reading the original — that should go without saying.
Recently I have read The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain and The Disinherited: Exile and the Making of Spanish Culture, 1492-1975. The first describes the world that was destroyed by the second, and both are relevant to DQ. For instance, those windmills were pumping water into irrigation systems developed by the Arabs, the pigs relate to the Jews, and it is significant that the 'mosarab' translator in the original was in Toledo, a kind of border-town between Christian and Arab Spain where both cultures commingled. These really add to the appreciation.
But dig, say a guy in Palm Beach got into his car and went to get the newspaper but ended up in Key West with no clear idea of where he was or how he got there. This happens all the time. Say a guy kept receiving communications of a certain sort and became overwhelmed, he armed himself and set off on a kind of personal jihad intent on mayhem. This, too, happens almost daily it sometimes seems. Add these two together and we have something or someone like Don Quixote, perfectly explainable but with one important exception. Our man was ruled by love. He begs to die rather than betray La Dulcinea. We love him in return.
In the 60's I was reading this in the original medieval Spanish in class. It was so vague to me. :) This was fun.