Don Quixote – Cervantes (1)

Don Quixote Cover

Jack reads selected passages 

from his favorite books

Unscripted. Unrehearsed. Unedited.


The History and Adventures of the Renowned Don Quixote,
Miguel de Cervantes,
London, Folio Society, 1995
(Part 1 of 3)


Don Quixote offers something unique in literature: the sight of an author teaching himself to write the first modern novel. As we read, a book is born and grows up before our eyes and eventually becomes so universal, so funny, so sad, so wise, that we wish it would never end. (From the Introduction to my Folio Society Limited Edition)

In a certain corner of La Mancha, the name of which I do not choose to remember, there lately lived one of those country gentleman, who adorn their halls with the rusty lance and worm-eaten target, and ride forth on the skeleton of a horse. . . .

Be it known, therefore, that this sad honest gentleman at his leisure hours, which engrossed the greatest part of the year, addicted himself to the reading of books of chivalry, which he perused with such rapture and application, that he had not only forgot the pleasure of the chase, but also utterly neglected the management of his estate: nay to such a pass did his curiosity and madness, in this particular, drive him, that he sold many good acres of Terra Firma, to purchase books of knight-errantry, with which he furnished his library to the utmost of his power; but none of them pleased him so much, as those that were written by the famous Feliciano de Silva, whom he admired as the pearl of all authors, for the brilliancy of his prose, and the beautiful perplexity of his expression. How was he transported, when he read those amorous complaints, and doughty challenges, that so often occur in his works.

“The reason of the unreasonable usage my reason has met with, so unreasons my reason, that I have reason to complain of your beauty;” and how did he enjoy the following flower of composition! “The high heaven of your divinity, which with stars divinely fortifies your beauty, and renders you meritorious of that merit, which by your highness is merited!”

The poor gentleman lost his senses, in poring over, and attempting to discover the meaning of these and other such rhapsodies, which Aristotle himself would not be able to unravel, were he to rise from the dead for that purpose only.

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