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June 22, 2024
Book Reviews

Read Don Quixote again and feel different story

When looking through Nabokov’s three-piece set of “Literary Lectures”, I learned that “Don Quixote” was the starting point for discussing the development of the novel, so I put aside “Anna Karenini” of “Russian Literary Lectures” for the time being and study this novel first.

When living in Maitreya in Yunnan several years ago, I borrowed the Don Quixote of Cervantes from the local library, which is a translation of Yang Jiang. After reading more than ten chapters, I felt ordinary and put it down. But considering Nabokov’s attention, there must be some reason. He downloaded the e-book from Amazon, but chose Dong Yansheng’s translation, because many netizens recommended it and the price was cheap, only 4.82 yuan.

Personally, I think Dong Yansheng’s translation is more beautiful, and he also added the part that Yang Jiang specifically deleted to cater to domestic readers.

Nabokov analyzed this book thoroughly, from the author’s situation, the background of the times, to the time and place of the story, the characteristics of the characters, and the literary value, which can be said to cover everything. On this basis, rereading Don Quixote can clearly see its advantages, disadvantages and structure.

There is no doubt that Don Quixote is a fairy tale. In order to study the novel in depth, Nabokov also specially wrote a story outline for each chapter and included it in the lecture notes. This tireless and meticulous academic spirit is worth learning.

Today, I have read Chapter 23 and started to feel its charm. One of the faults of this novel is that it is mixed with many poems, ballads and proverbs that have little to do with the main plot, giving people a sense of procrastination. However, as Nabokov said, reading a good book three to five times can taste the delicious food. I’m also going to read it several times to absorb the essence of literature as much as possible.

Nabokov also talked about “real life” in his Don Quixote lecture, believing that this concept is based on a system with universal characteristics. Therefore, the less universal a fictional work is, the less recognizable it is in the sense of “real life”.

If you put it another way, the more vivid and fresh the details of a fictional work, the farther away it is from the so-called “real life”, because “real life” refers to ordinary feelings with universality, which is well-known to all people, and is a common thing in the world.

It must be a very useful work to study how these emotions are transformed from masters of fictional works into artistic techniques.


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