Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I went to Borders and headed for the literature section and found four translations of Don Quixote which weren't the Grossman one. I pouted for a minute and then settled down with a book that I had listened to in audio format until my player broke several chapters from the end. I finished the book and then put it back in the "featured titles" section. I had about 20 minutes still to kill, so I perused that section some more and there on the bottom was the Grossman Don Quixote. It was meant to be. I took it back to the chairs and read the first several chapters. I figure if I read about 40 pages a day, I'll be able to get through it on deadline and when my copy does arrive I can read even more each day.

One thing I hope to accomplish with this classic-book program is more comfort with reading The Classics. I get intimidated. I blazed through the ending of The Memory of Running with virtually no effort and with only 3/4 of my mind focused on it. I didn't feel stressed about catching all of the "important" parts. I assumed that if it was important, I'd notice it. I was relaxed and having fun.

Then with Don Quixote, I stiffened up. This was Real Reading. I couldn't let any detail get by me, because if I did, I might not Get It. This is why I am insisting on this translation. I keep hearing that it is more enjoyable than any other to read, and I want to enjoy this.

Of course, in The Well-Educated Mind, Susan Wise Bauer does say that reading popular fiction is different than reading classical literature, and that it requires different brain functions. It's been awhile since I read her book, so I don't remember exactly how she worded it except that I remember feeling relieved that no, I wasn't stupid. Not in this, anyway.

Does anyone else struggle with these feelings of inadequacy in reading this and other classic works?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a plan- I'm in.

I'm going to pick that new translation tomorrow and get going.

As fopr reading classics, there is a difference- contemporary works, are fo rthe ost part, done a la TV- that is, you can miss a few moments and miss nothing.

As you noted, the classics are far more interactive, like a ballroom dance.

You have to pay attention, or you lose the rythem, cadence and your partner.

OK, so much from the cheap seats.


4:11 PM  
Blogger Zee said...

Ooh, excellent! I'm game, too.
I read it in Spanish years ago, so I'm really looking forward to sinking my teeth into Grossman's translation. Hunting for it right now. :o)

5:16 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Hello, Zee!

I'm sending out invites for anyone who would like poster status here. It's not required, of course, because one can always comment. But I'd like to encourage a spirit of freedom to start discussions or simply fire off impressions or struggles and not simply commenting to my drivel. :P

So. If you'd like an invite to become a poster here, email me at

Glad to have you!

5:30 PM  
Blogger Isabella said...

Kudos. Very commendable. I don't know that I'll participate much, but I'll definitely follow along. I once had a copy of Don Quixote but a friend asked to borrow it and I never saw them again. But it wasn't the Grossman translation.

I love that feeling with a book that it's meant to be.

Inadequacy? All the time. Depends on the book and the baggage it carries. For the most part I've consciously decided not to critically analyze books, but rather "respond" to them, hopefully in an informed way.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Isabella said: "For the most part I've consciously decided not to critically analyze books, but rather "respond" to them, hopefully in an informed way."

That's exactly how I'm trying to approach this project. Very well-put.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Isabella said...

I came across this article the other day and it occurs to me now you may appreciate it. Certainly it proposes a few angles for interpretation of Don Quixote. It dares to ask "Would Don Quixote pass the test and be published in New York today?" Also consider that it spawned the word "quixotic," a claim only few (if any) literary characters can lay hold to.

SC&A: You're in it for the schizophrenia angle?!

7:56 PM  
Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Isabella, think MPD.

Actually, I need to read and reread better stuff. I've fallen victim to the storytellers- and that bothers me.

I had an interesting discussion recently with a friend, where I opined that the last great writer/storyteller was Marl Twain.

While I'm no way mocking the value of storytellers, for me, I have to admit to a mea culpa, in that I've that to become the dominant force in my reading.

Now don't get me wrong- I'm not referring to the trashy novel genre, but rather, to the pseudo writers. Shoot me, but Richler, to use a Canadian suthor (and worthy read!), a brilliant mind, but he's a raconteur- par excellence, for sure- but he isn't in my opinion, a writer of 'stature.'

Do you like Pearl Buck?

8:20 PM  
Blogger Müzikdüde said...

Just one question...
Have you ever considered actually PURCHASING a book from Borders.
I'm all for a free ride but I usually read reference books and would benefit more by taking them home.
You sound very resourceful...I'm not criticizing...I'm just a bit envious that I've spent thousands in book stores without ever realizing I could treat them as a library.


8:47 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Thank you Isabella! I'm going to post this link separately so it will be more visible.

And do let me know if you'd like to sign up as a poster here. Just email me at if so...

Oh, and I clicked through your profile earlier and only then realized that you are Magnificent Octopus! I'm really liking your blog. :)

8:48 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Muzikdude (John): I'm embarrassed to think that you got the impression that I was going to read the entire book for free at Borders. I have the book on order through Amazon and was merely anxious to get a head start. I also have another version of the book, a different translation, which I purchased last year from my favorite independent, family-owned bookstore.

I dropped a good $200 at each store over the holidays; I feel entitled to read the first few chapters at Borders while drinking coffee from their cafe. ;)

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope we'll see you chiming in more often!

8:55 PM  
Blogger Müzikdüde said...

Diana, I am equally embarrassed to find that this is your blog and not some random blogger with whom I've not previously been acquainted.

Moreover, I find it slightly unnerving that you would even begin to give someone like me an explanation of your motives.

If you would like to preserve your reputation as a quality blogger, you should tell me to mind my own business.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Oh, John! I took it as all in fun. No worries, eh?

Since you seem to be hanging out here a lot, you might as well pick up a copy of Don Quixote. ;)

10:28 PM  
Blogger christina said...

Hi everyone. My book is on order and should be here in a few days. I'll have to admit I haven't ready anything "classic" in quite a while but I'm up for it. I registered here at blogger but I'm still not quite sure how to post an entry as opposed to a comment. I'll probably figure it out sometime. Nice to meet you all.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

This is great stuff. I, too, may not be as participatory as most, but would love to tag along for the discussion assuming that's ok by you.

Seeing as Vince Millay has just added the Grossman version of this very classic to my reading list, I'm hopeful that I'll be able to keep up.

My problem reading so-called 'classics' isn't getting bogged down in the reading of them so much as getting bogged down in the 'who made the rules that defined this drivel as CLASSIC?' at times. Then I just get pissed off for having mucked through a book I abhor only for the right to call myself somewhat well-read. Resentment can be an ugly thing, and I *do* hold grudges. :-)

But I digress, eh? Let the fun begin!

7:55 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Hey, Jen!!

I know exactly what you mean. I tend to approach any book in the spirit that it will have lots to offer me and this book, so far, is proving to be no exception. I am finding little bits of things that make me pause and think, but that happens with almost any well-written book. So, why is this a "classic"?? That's something I hope to learn as I go.

And Christina, as for posting things here, if you click on the "Get your own blog" link above it will take you to the "dashboard," or to the place to login before that. From there you can click on this blog's title and there should be a link at the top that says "create."

Has your book come yet? I've been tracking mine and I'm pretty sure I'll get it tomorrow.

4:20 PM  

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