I finally finished Don Quixote! It is the first book listed in The Well Educated Mind for the fact it is considered the first novel ever written. It was written in 1605 yet I was amazed at how common mankind's struggles are even after 400 years!
It felt like a huge accomplishment for me to finish all nine hundred and some odd pages because Quixote's insanity truly began to numb my brain after about the first four hundred! I keep a reading journal and summarized each.and.every.single chapter in the entire book. I was rewarded for this by the fact that I could orally summarize pretty much the entire book including all the major characters when I was done. The fact that there are over 600 characters in the novel makes this a triumph in itself! And still a month after finishing it I can still remember the majority of those details. I have always been a very fast reader but a week after finishing a book I can typically not recall anything but major themes and maybe a main character or two. A month after reading pretty much all the details are lost. After a year I can read the dust jacket and think, "Now did I ever read this book or not?" Sad but true.
Susan Wise-Bauer says in The Well Educated Mind, " Some books speak to us at one time of life and are silent at another. If a book remains voiceless to you, put it down and read the next book on the list." Even though I struggled with it, I persevered to the end of Quixote because I needed to prove to myself that I could do it. Actually I knew I could do it I just needed to know I would do it!
Francis Bacon says, "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." I would say I took the middle road with this book. At the end I was so relieved to just be done, but after working through some of the elements of literary analysis that SWB lists in TWEM I found myself appreciating the book more and more. I still doubt that Don Quixote will rank as one of my top ten favorite books (actually I doubt it will make the top 50 when all is said and done ;) but it was a good start on my journey of self-education.