Monday, January 26th, 2004
I am reading Terry Castle's review of Edith Grossman's new translation of Don Quixote, and thinking I should read it. I read the book, or large parts of it, in college, in Walter Starkie's translation, but it never really hit me -- I never had the DQ experience that I was expecting based primarily on some stuff I had read by Borges. Time to go back to it? I think so -- and Castle sure makes this new translation sound worthwhile.
Wednesday, January 28th, 2004
I went to Coliseum Books today in search of Don Quixote. Coliseum is sold out of Don Quixote but should have a new shipment delivered tomorrow morning. I took the opportunity to buy Doug Henwood's After the New Economy instead.
Thursday, January 29th, 2004
So here is the plan for the next few weeks, reading- and woodworkingwise: On the train to and from work, I am going to be reading After the New Economy by Doug Henwood until I finish it, then Nickeled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, which I bought today for Ellen -- I believe she will be finished with it by the time I want it. Come home in the evening, play with Sylvia, have dinner, recreate, put Sylvia to bed. Then I will go downstairs and work on a dust collection harness for my lathe -- or when that is finished, on Ellen's bookcase or turning projects. Then come back up and read Don Quixote for an hour or so before bed. This makes it difficult to figure when I will post my reactions to DQ but I will try and make some room for that as well.
Friday, January 30th, 2004
Don Quixote: I read (last night) the prologue and introductory verse (which I more skimmed than read), and the first chapter; tonight I reread the end of the first chapter, and read the second and third chapters. It is flowing very nicely for me and giving me some laughs. The author's voice (as realized by the translator) is very strong and consistent.
Saturday, January 31st, 2004
I had coffee (rather than beer) today with Roy Edroso of Alicublog (which is to my surprise pronounced "Ali-COO-blog", not "A-LICK-yooblog"), and old friend Nathaniel Heidenheimer. Roy brought to my attention the scene on p. 22 of Don Quixote -- a scene which I had smiled at when I read it a few nights previously but without realizing how excellent it is, and how exactly descriptive of my own actions in many situations throughout my life.
...he saw that it had a great defect, which was that instead of a full sallet helmet with an attached neckguard, there was only a simple headpiece; but he compensated for this with his industry, and out of pasteboard he fashioned a kind of half-helmet that, when attached to the headpiece, took on the appearance of a full sallet. It is true that in order to test if it was strong and could withstand a blow, he took out his sword and struck it twice, and with the first blow he undid in a moment what it had taken him a week to create; he could not help being disappointed at the ease with which he had hacked it to pieces, and to protect against that danger, he made another one, placing strips of iron on the inside so that he was satisfied with its strength; and not wanting to put it to the test again, he designated and accepted it as an extremely fine sallet.
I have done precisely this many times: test something which I have put a lot of effort into, find it extremely wanting, rebuild it with a little reinforcement and then skip the test -- and say to myself, the extra reinforcement is sure to make it hold.
It was good to see Nathaniel again -- he says he wants to get a blog, which would be a good thing to have happen though I am a little skeptical. He made me reconsider my support for Edwards, who he thinks is totally insincere in his economically progressive talking points.
Tuesday, February third, 2004
Don Quixote: I'm a little mystified as to why Señor Quexana's niece and friends would have thought the proper way to cure his mania, would be to tell him an evil wizard had destroyed his library. Surely they could find a less paranoia-inducing story to tell? Different times, different mores, maybe...
Monday, February 9th, 2004
I finished reading After the New Economy tonight -- I am glad to have read it and hope some salient points about finance (in particular) stay with me. I will give it to a friend tomorrow. And yes, I'm still reading Don Quixote, and enjoying it; I have just begun the fourth part, in which (I am guessing) the priest and the barber will return Señor Quexana to his home village and attempt to cure his mania.
Friday, February 13th, 2004
Don Quixote -- I am bogging down slightly on Chapter XXXIII, the story-within-a-story about Anselmo and Lotario. A footnote at the end of the previous chapter says Cervantes was criticized for including this story as it detracted from the flow and pacing of the story; I'm with the critics. This story reminds me a bit of the stories-within-a-story of the Decameron, which I found quite difficult to get through and not really that engaging. (Not to criticize Boccaccio -- people with far better taste than I have think he's the bee's knees -- I just had a hard time with it. Perhaps when I am older and more patient I will return to it and enjoy it.)
Monday, February 16th, 2004
Don Quixote, Chapter XXXVI: I just finished the Tale of Reckless Curiosity and found myself won over to its presence in the book. Although it distracted me from the main story of Don Quixote, it was itself a good story and I got interested in the characters almost despite myself. I was glad Cervantes interrupted the action of the enclosed story midway through to talk about the main story -- that kept it in my mind.
Wednesday, February 18th, 2004
Don Quixote, Chapter XXXVI: A weird change of gears -- I expect to continue on with the story of "The Queen of Micomicona" but instead I find myself suddenly returned to the story of Cardenio and Don Fernando... it is testament to Cervantes' skill as a story teller that I was able to get back up to speed on this lapsed story very quickly. The way the stories are interleaved together is what I am finding most memorable about this book -- Cervantes can jump with little effort from one to another, and there are always little reminders planted of the stories that are currently in the background.
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