I finished reading Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote last night. I’ve not been able to read it before but I got hold of the Edith Grosman translation which makes it much more accessible. It is a book which is deeply amusing but which, nevertheless, engages us in the human tragedy. The gentle Knight’s quest is to destroy injustice and we are allowed to accompany him and his squire as they battle against Death in a medieval Spanish landscape.
Cervantes led an eventful life and only began to write the novel when he was older and ensconced in a debtors’ prison. His left-hand was crippled after a time in the Spanish militia and he spent many years at sea and was enslaved by Barbary pirates for five years, eventually being ransomed by his family in Madrid.
He gave us a character who is completely “unthinkable as a living being,” said Milan Kundera, and yet one who, once you have engaged with him, takes up a permanent residence within you.