05 April 2007

In which our heroine rediscovers the love of her life and makes an impulsive purchase...

With all due respect to George Smiley, whom I so deeply love, I have just reconnected with my one true love: Don Quixote.

When Edith Grossman's translation was released in 2003, it was instantly hailed as THE definitive English translation. I was in Berlin at the time, knee-deep in my field work, and though I read the reviews in the New Yorker, the Guardian, and a billion other publications, simply had no time to curl up with my own copy. So it was also added to that list of books I would read when I finally finished my *@#!!% Ph.D.

Well, somehow after I finished my studies, I couldn't find the list, and I just read a bunch of random stuff: Austerlitz, The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance, The Plot Against America, Bleak House, The Man who Smiled, Snow, Blindness, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loann, and some freaky Ruth Rendell thrillers, which put me right off dating.

Earlier this week I finished The Wonga Coup, which is a great read about the failed coup in Equatorial Guinea in 2004. (It's the one in which Maggie Thatcher's son was implicated.) After I finished that book I felt the need to retreat to classic literature and allowed myself to be inspired by the shelves in the bookshop around the corner from my office. And there, as i wandered through the C's I found it. Thank goodness Cervantes wrote this and not some guy named Saramago, because I was tired and ready to go home. Beyond the thrill of remembering that this was a book from my list, the wonderful cover and soothing internal design were like icing on the proverbial cake. I was so excited that I couldn't even wait to order it from Amazon. I paid full price!

I'd read Don Quixote while I was at Carolina. I took a Spanish class during summer school that met for three hours every day for six weeks and Don Quixote was what we read, discussed, and wrote about--inside and out. I'm guessing though, that reading Don Quixote at 21 is a completely different exercise from reading it at 46. Well in my case at least; at 21 I was an optimist and now I'm.... Gosh, I'm not sure what I am. Let's just say that the world makes me very sad and very happy at the same time.

In any case, I think it's the perfect time to curl up with one of literature's most compelling characters. But as soon as my stuff arrives from Berlin (and New York, and Rocky Mount) I'll reread all of my George Smiley novels. Wouldn't want to hurt his feelings...

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