Author: Miguel De Cervantes
Length: 344 minutes / 5.73 hours
Aside from the “Cliff’s notes” version presented on the TV show, Wishbone, I knew enough about Don Quixote to be dangerous without having actually read it. After all, this book has spawned such words and phrases as “tilting at windmills” and “quixotic,” as well as a Broadway musical. But how does this 17th-century classic hold up in today’s world? One would argue that chivalry was already dead by the time it was written, so it’s not likely to be an examination of chivalrous attitudes and how they’d benefit society. As far as I see it, Don Quixote is a bit like a romantic comedy in the vein of William Shakespeare’s plays.
Probably the first-ever recorded instance of a dedicated live action role player (LARPer), the character Don Quixote borders on that line between comedy and tragedy. If I were to give a medical explanation for his actions, it’s either severe delusion and dementia or a high-functioning psychosis. And yet, his dedication to his chivalrous quest is charming if not slightly amusing when he comes face-to-face with reality. The fact that many characters go along with his delusion to work out some relationship issues shows that this book enjoys the lighthearted nature of chivalrous nostalgia.
When it comes right down to it, Don Quixote is a comedy of errors. The long series of mistakes and awkward situations brought about by the titular character’s delusion merely highlights the contrast between the fictional worlds of the books that influenced his demeanor and the real world around him. In fact, one would almost say the moral of this story is being able to distinguish fiction from reality, of which Don Quixote is unable to do. Such as it is, Don Quixote is a fun read, especially if you don’t try to read too much into it.
A comedy with some potential takeaways, I give Don Quixote 4.0 stars out of 5.