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TOP 100 REVIEWERon January 28, 2017
There's only one original "Quixote", but there are literally dozens of translations, and an almost infinite number of commentaries about the quality, integrity and appeal of those various translations. But, if you would just like to sit down with a readable and fairly mainstream version there are two free Kindle volumes that offer you a happy choice.

The four "major" translations that are referenced over and over again are by Smollett, Grossman, Putnam, and Raffel. (There are roughly a dozen "minor" but well known and vigorously defended or reviled others.) But, the first translation, which was published in 1612, within just seven years of the release of "Quixote" itself, was by Thomas Shelton. The most popular translation after that, until the "modern" era, was Ormsby's 1885 version.

Happily, Kindle offers a free copy of Ormsby's version. It also offers a kindleunlimited, (and sometimes free as a promotion), copy of Gerald Davis' reworking of the Shelton version.

Some people favor Raffel, (although faulted for being too oversimplified), or Putnam, (faulted for being too colloquial). Grossman is the most modern, but is frequently criticized for taking great liberties and being almost purposefully prolix and obscure. Of course, each translator brought his or her own sense of style, and own sense of the work, to the project, and all of them felt fairly free to put their own authorial stamp on the book. Ormsby is highly regarded because of his scholarly effort to achieve "accuracy". The Davis book is highly regarded, although sometimes relegated to a niche position, because of the translator's attempt to find a middle ground between the Shelton original and a modern reader's sensibilities.

This Kindle Ormsby is the 1885 version, not the Norton update of 1981. But that's fine, since the update modernized some language but didn't change the text dramatically. As a bare public domain version you don't get notes, footnotes, modern annotations and the like. You do, however, get the full text, include Ormsby's analysis of prior translations. The book is formatted well enough and has a basic table of contents. It is readable, if unadorned.

The Kindleunlimited Davis is also barebones, although there is a nice preface by Davis. Again, the formatting and type editing is fine and unfussy. It is also perfectly readable.

I prefer the Davis version, but that really is a matter of personal taste. It is nice to be able to suggest that not only are these two freebies adequate, they do indeed have an honorable place amongst all of the best translations. As a consequence you do not have to lower your standards, or accept an inferior translation, when selecting one of these freebies as your text of choice.

Surprisingly, each Kindle version can be augmented, for a few dollars, with Audible Narration. The Ormsby narration is a bit more energetic, the Davis narration is more solemn. I only sampled them, but both seemed fairly engaging.

Please note, because there are so many editions of each and all of these books, and because Amazon is not at its best when mixing and matching books, editions, and reviews, it's important to mention which books this review refers to. The kindleunlimited Davis displays a white cover and a pencil or engraved image of Don Quixote framed in yellow. It clearly states that it is "The New Translation By Gerald J. Davis". The free Ormsby sports the generic Amazon public domain cover, in brown and buff. Don't mistakenly buy some expensive "collectible" mass market copy, unless that's what you want.
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on May 5, 2017
Don Quixote was written in two books, published 10 years apart. I was aware of some of the familiar episodes, like the windmills, that occur early in the first book, but had not appreciated the wit and creative depth of the full two-volume work. For example, in volume 2, Don Quixote meets people who know of him because they have read the first book. He also meets people who think they know him because they have read a false second volume (an actual book written by another author based on the first DQ book). In the second book, particularly, we see DQ as something of split personality. He continues his misguided and humorous adventures (although sometimes with unexpected success) as the delusional knight errant, but both he and Sancho Panza can be wise and thoughtful in some real human circumstances.
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on March 21, 2014
Marvellous Spanish Classic on adventure and chivalry. Comical yet with serious themes coursing through this epic humor. Long but brilliant soliloquies from DQ and Sancho. Brilliant because subject such as destiny, fate,common sense, love, and good governance are as relevant today as they were in the 1500s. Novellas within the classic were also breathtakingly beautiful and convoluted in themselves. Every second page contained some beautiful quotable lines. Many were references to Biblical proverbs and wisdom. The mad DQ's chivalrous but misguided intentions to right the wrongs, save the damsel in distress, save the vulnerable and prisoners and his fool hardiness and delusional search for adventures ended mostly in misadventures and grievous bodily injuries to himself and to his poor squire, Sancho. Thankfully, Sancho stuck by his knight-errant master through thick and thin, not because of blind loyalty but because he was promised an elusive pie in the sky in the form of an island to govern one day. An example of DQ's madness was when DQ imagined a charging flock of sheep to be an army of soldiers running towards him. Without Sancho holding DQ back, DQ would have perished much sooner. Thus it was one misadventure after another, written in beautiful prose and lovely analogies, proverbs and idioms that brought me so much mirth and merriment while reading it. Don QuixoteSuperb entertainment! While Victor Hugo's classics were serious and mournful, Cervantes' DQ was lighthearted merriment. Both style were effective in uplifting the reader by their relevance. My outlook on life is greatly enriched after reading this book just as Les Miserable has strengthened me.
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on February 20, 2015
I've tried to read Don Quixote three or four times over the last 40 years and failed each time. But this time, with the whispersynch I was able to complete the book. It was very well read, and reasonably entertaining. But as Don Q remarks in the book, "“Translating from one language to another, [...], is like looking at Flemish tapestries from the wrong side, for although the figures are visible, they are covered by threads that obscure them, and cannot be seen with the smoothness and color of the right side.”

So I suspect it would get 5 stars if I could have read it in the original Spanish. A long book (35 hours of listening/reading), but enjoyable.
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on July 15, 2017
I read Don Quixote because I had heard good things about it—by the end of I was hoping it would go on; I read the whole book slowly like it was a rich dessert. The story is a spoof on chivalry novels which were popular in the day. However, I am pretty sure, the author secretly liked the notion of these novels and the characters are very endearing. A comedy and a tragedy in one, sophisticated, the author created a loving and layered tale. The author says Don Quixote is in madness, to me I wish the world would bend more to him. The translation by Charles Jarvis is older but I find it to be adequate.
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on May 23, 2016
By Jay Kim, 8th grade
Don Quixote is the main character of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. He is the hero of the story, but he is certainly a strange one. Don Quixote starts as a poor and elderly noble who reads books for pleasure. These books of chivalry drive him insane, and lead him to believe that he must revive the profession of knight errantry. Before losing his sanity, Don Quixote was named Alonso Quixano, but he named himself Don Quixote to suit the role he is playing of a knight errant. Don is a spanish title and Quixote is a section of armor that covers the thigh. His face is described as being very long and serious, and he is very gaunt and tall. Throughout the book, Don Quixote is ridiculed by many but he never seems to notice. He also has a sense of chivalry as he wants to embody the idea of a knight errant, trying to right wrongs and using force when force is needed. Knight errants are thought to be courageous, and Don Quixote is nothing but courageous. Throughout his adventures, he almost never fails to confront his fears and right perceived wrongs although doing so loses him several teeth and a part of his ear. It is also remarked many times that apart from anything related to chivalry, Don Quixote is perfectly sane and intelligent. In fact, throughout the book he gives many admirable speeches and many morals that I agree with. I admire Don Quixote because even though he is elderly and can live off his estate as a noble, he refuses to do so and becomes a knight errant. Yes, this is because he is not completely sane but he is trying to do good for others.
Sancho Panza is Don Quixote’s poor peasant neighbor. Poor, but fat and short. For whatever reason, Sancho agrees to be Don Quixote’s squire even though Don Quixote is quite obviously mad. He plays a counterpart to Don Quixote, behaving cowardly when Don Quixote is rushing forward to meet his imaginary enemies, and greedy to Don Quixote’s apparent non-materialism. But he sticks through all of Don Quixote’s adventures next to him, and he seems to regard the knight errant as a very good friend by the book’s end. Sancho Panza tries to do the best for his family, bringing money from the adventure back to them, and his donkey, being very careful not to lose him. Sancho Panza is also extremely simpleminded, as evident by him agreeing to be a squire to Don Quixote. Also, his proverbs, of which he has many, are always off the mark and make no sense. However, he is not without his moments, as when he becomes a governor he creates several very intelligent laws that are followed even after he leaves his position. I like Sancho Panza because he gives humor to the story with his strange acts and simple mindedness. You can also sense a bond growing between Sancho Panza and Don Quixote through the story, and I really enjoy seeing their friendship grow.
The Barber is an un named character in Don Quixote who is a friend of Don Quixote. They seem to be good friends, although the barber does enjoy poking fun at Don Quixote at times. His friend the Priest is also a good friend of Don Quixote, and the Barber seems to defer to the Priest’s judgement a lot. There is not much to be said about the Barber except that he is a true friend of Don Quixote.
The Priest is an un named character in Don Quixote who is a friend of Don Quixote. He graduated from what is said to be a bad college, but he seems quite intelligent. He takes pride in being a priest, one time saying that he refuses to wear a the clothing of a women because he would dishonor priests. His friend the Barber defers to him in many matters of judgement. Books of chivalry seem to be a pet peeve to the priest since they have so changed his friend, Don Quixote, and he also seems to find many of them distasteful since they are so unreal as to not give him any enjoyment in reading them. I agree with him about chivalry novels and generally think he is another true friend to Don Quixote.
The Niece of Don Quixote is a woman who loves Don Quixote as a family member and tries to care for him when he is sick. Their familial bond and love is further shown when Don Quixote gives her land in his will. The Niece tries her best to stop Don Quixote from going out on adventures, but it’s for his own good. I feel she is not trying hard enough, however, since Don Quixote manages to go out and have adventures a total of three times.
The Housekeeper for Don Quixote is similar to his Niece in that both care for him. In fact, the Housekeeper continues working for Don Quixote even when he is gone on his adventures and doesn’t pay her. She just wants the best for Don Quixote, and I think that is an admirable thing.
Dulcinea of Toboso is the name Don Quixote gives to a peasant girl he had a crush on when he was young. Her real name is Aldonza Lorenzo, but Don Quixote decides he needs a maiden to serve and so changes her name to better fit that. They never meet in the book, but it is said she was pretty when she was young. I am not sure what to think of her as there is not much information about her, but she must be a good person if Don Quixote likes her so much.
Cardenio is a man who runs away to die alone when he hears his beloved marries another. Eventually, it is found that this was not true and he goes back and presumably marries her. I think Cardenio had a hard life and I am glad his story ends happily.
Luscinda is Cardenio’s sweetheart who refused an offer of marriage even though she was pressed into accepting it by many. She is considered inordinately beautiful, and it is said her beauty was matched only by Dorotea. There is not much said about her, but she remains faithful to her sweetheart so I admire her for that.
Don Fernando is a rich noble who said he loved Dorotea, but then tried to marry Luscinda. Of course, he was also Cardenio’s good friend until he tried to steal away Luscinda. He eventually agrees to marry Dorotea and it is presumed they live happily ever after. I think Don Fernando is a womanizer and quite rude, since he broke his promise to Dorotea.
Dorotea is the rich daughter of a peasant family. When Don Fernando ran away from his obligations to her, she was so ashamed that she ran away. Eventually, she found Don Fernando and they married. She is considered to be as beautiful as Luscinda, and very intelligent for she managed to get Don Fernando to marry her. I like that Dorotea’s story ended happily because she seems like a good person.
The Duke and Duchess are characters in the second part of Don Quixote who, having read the first part, decide to play tricks on Don Quixote and his squire for their amusement. These tricks are not very nice, but they are funny and the Duke and Duchess seem to genuinely like both Don Quixote and his squire. In fact, they even gift Sancho Panza with a town to govern, although he loses his job after a mere 10 days. I like the Duke and Duchess since they are basically harmless and just play a lot of jokes that are a little funny.
The Knight of the Green Coat is a person Don Quixote meets on the road. The Knight invites him to his house, and so Don Quixote and Sancho Panza stay there for a while. The Knight seems to be a rich farmer, and his real name is Don Diego de Miranda. He and his son believe that Don Quixote is sometimes intelligent and other times mad. His son aspires to be a famous poet. I think that this Knight is a nice guy for allowing Don Quixote to stay at his house, but I wish that Don Quixote had a chance to tell the Knight his adventures after the knight errant parted ways with Don Diego. Unfortunately, Don Quixote dies at the end of the book so I don’t think this will ever happen.
Bachelor Sanson Carrasco is a bachelor of a university. He, along with the Priest and Barber, plan to stop Don Quixote’s madness. Sanson dresses as a knight and fights Don Quixote, so that the loser must proclaim the winner’s maiden as the most beautiful, but he loses. He is not daunted by this loss, however, and he meets Don Quixote again near the end of the book to fight him. This time he wins, and it is considered that the depression brought about by this defeat led to Don Quixote’s death. I think Sanson’s cause is worthy, but the end result is utterly sad.
Connection:
I chose this project because I like reading, and I thought that this would take less effort and be more enjoyable than the other options. The other options just sounded like work, while reading sounded more like resting. The Ingenious Gentlemen of La Mancha influenced spanish culture because so many people read the book and enjoyed it. This led them to incorporate the book into plays and art. Don Quixote helped me understand a little more about spanish . For example, footnotes in the book indicate that Don Quixote uses more formal language to indicate anger at Sancho Panza, but this formal language is not seen in the translation. English and spanish have differences, and Don Quixote helped me see that more clearly.
Reflection:
I learned a little about the spanish language, but mostly I learned about knight errantry and some of the culture of Spain. I felt bored for some parts of the book, like through the sonnets and poems, but otherwise I felt engaged and understood most of it. I do think that I would recommend this project to another student because I feel like I had fun reading Don Quixote and there was little to no effort involved. Footnotes increased my understanding of the text, so if someone has a copy of the book with footnotes I think they should definitely give it a try. However, the reading did consume a lot of time, so if people don’t have a lot of time they should not do this project. I planned it so that I would read 50 pages a day for several weeks, but it turned out that it was very hard to keep to this schedule. I think a better way would be to read 300 pages on the weekends so the reading doesn’t interfere with schoolwork but it still gets done. At some points in the book, I wasn’t sure if I liked the book or not, but when I finished the book I felt sad so I guess that means I liked the book after all. Honestly, I feel that it was worth it to experience what people have called the, “first modern novel”.
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on July 7, 2017
I am reading this on my little iPhone instead of my Kindle Fire which refused to open it even though the front cover appears. When I go back to the computer to re-download it, I get a message saying it has already downloaded on my Kindle Fire. That being said I am enjoying this translation of Don Quixote and was impressed with the information contained in the preface about the author, historical times, and different translations of the book.
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on January 18, 2016
The first novel, or at least the first modern novel, and one of the great works of Western civilization. An early Enlightenment work, Don Quijote pokes fun at, and mocks, the chivalrous customs of a Spain whose nobles were wealthy from its colonies. An excellent example of irony in literature -- one of the best in my judgment. Still, it is a long and somewhat disjointed work that cries out for an editor. There are even elements of post-modernism in this work. In this respect, it was groundbreaking in several ways. One of my favourite books in all of literature.
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on August 8, 2014
I am an expert on Cervantes (former editor of the journal of the Cervantes Society of America) and I have had quite some time finding out which translation it is, since it doesn't say. It is the translation of Charles Jarvis, simultaneously published in the U.S., and as he says, he is primarily relying on Motteux,.

A better choice, also free, is the translation of John Ormsby (1885), which is available from Project Gutenberg.

The introductions of both were good for their day, but a lot has happened in Cervantine studies and biography since then.

John Ormsby's translation was revised with backgrounds and sources, criticism by Joseph Ramon Jones; Kenneth Douglas and published by W.W. Norton in 1981. It is out of print, and I personally would prefer it to the new Norton translation. Used copies are available on Amazon for 50 cents.
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on October 31, 2008
It took me 82 days to read this 376,580-word classic (which should be more like 1250-1500 pages instead of 972), and at times, it was frustrating. But by the end, when I read the last word, I felt a sense of loss: a companion of mine had died.

I read an extremely condensed version of Don Quixote (in Spanish) in high school, but it was nothing like the real thing. The most amazing aspect of Don Quixote is that it is a hilarious book despite being 400+ years old. The antics of Quixote and the words of his squire Sancho Panza never failed to bring a smile to my face and often resulted in out-loud laughter. And the book is, obviously, much more than a mere comedy -- upon reflection, there is a lot of mind-blowing symbolism and commentary on the human condition, which holds up just as well as the humor.

But unfortunately, some things don't hold up as well: Cervantes, through his characters, goes on long rants against various foes and literary figures that were lost on me. And while this is the first real novel in the history of the world, and thus it should be forgiven, the story is long and rambling, and where I got really frustrated is when Quixote and Sancho would meet a new character who would then go into 20-30 pages worth of life story. Sometimes, these stories were just as interesting as the Quixote/Sancho antics, but this was rare.

Irrespective of its "flaws" (I hesitate to even call them that), this is a book I feel very much better for having read. One more word of caution to prospective readers: the prologue and early sonnets were really hard for me to get through, too. I think they can be safely skipped, along with all the front matter, to be perused later. Dive right in to Chapter I and get started!
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