Thursday, July 2, 2015

The 306 Greatest Books #129 - Don Quixote

The next book up on my reading of the 305 Greatest Books is Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. This book can be found on the SybervisionNorwegian, Observer, and My Personal Book Lists.



Whenever I hear anyone reference Don Quixote, it is frequently in regards to his fighting windmills, or riding around on an old horse with a fat squire on a donkey. Well, that is pretty much the first 20-50 pages of a 1,000 page long story. Preconceptions of the story do not really encompass the true breadth and depth of it. The story is about a man who feels he has been tasked with restoring knight errantry back to Spain and dupes a simple minded farmer to accompany him (Sancho Panza). When I first started to read the story, I felt like this was the story for me. It was serialized television long before television even existed. There were even phrases like "when we last left our heroes...". It seemed perfect for me. The translation I was reading was awesome as well (the Everyman edition). He translated it into basically a very readable sort of Old English with all of the poetry and songs maintaining their rhymes. I assume the context and feel of the story was maintained even though the wording needed to be changed. And my version extended the feel of the novel to the translation itself. The novel is written as if it is a Spanish translation of an older text (Arabic I believe), where my English translator even had notes added on top of his translation by an editor. It definitely gives it a story handed down through time aura about it. 

The problems I have with the story started pretty early though. I felt the story started to drag on really early in the first part. Adventures seemed to take forever, there were many side stories that added little (if anything) to the overall narrative, and I just felt the pace of the story slowing down dramatically. I felt I needed to trudge through most of the middle part of the novel until hitting the second part. When I really started to enjoy the story was during the last third of the novel, when the story became self referential. The first half of the novel was apparently published earlier and characters within the second half of the story had often either read it or had heard of it. There is even parts where a real life sequel to the first book was published by a different author and the characters in the book go out of their way to prove that book to be a false sequel. It's actually pretty meta. As for the ending, it felt very very rush. The ending could have been placed at any point in the book and still have fit, there was no real build up to it during the narrative. It would have been better if certain story points (mainly Dulcinea del Toboso) were even addressed during the ending instead of just dropped as if she never even mattered. Overall, I would say the story was actually quite a bit of fun when it started to pick up during the later half but an abridged version of the story may be the way to go for many people (although I personally refuse to go abridged). 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

2015 Personal Goals - Month 6 Update

6 months in. 1/2 way done with the year.

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1. Finish 1st Draft of my Novel
Start - Again on the list.

2. Drop weight to 167
Start - This has also been on the list since the beginning. Starting at 183.3
Month 1 - 184.0
Month 2 - 184.3
Month 3 - 183.0
Month 4 - 183.5
Month 6 - 177.5

3. Read 1 of the Top Ten Books on Zane's List
Start - In the middle of The Stories of Anton Chekhov.

4. Read 5 books on the Sybervision Book List (including 1 in the Science or Philosophy sections)
Start - Current count is at 85.
Month 2 - Started Don Quixote.
Month 6 - Finished Don Quixote. 4 books to go.

5. Finish 1 more Geological Movie Review
Start - Earthquake still looks like the best bet.

6. Watch 10 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time
Start - Current count is at 75.

7. Finish 50 things on the Blog/Website, with 25 specifically on my To Do list.
Start - My To Do list currently has ~150 things on it.
Month 1 - 4 things done. 46 to go.
Month 2 - 8 done. 42 to go.
Month 3 - 13 done. 37 to go.
Month 4 - 14 done. 36 to go.
Month 6 - 18 done. 32 to go.

8. Finish 8 things on the House Things to do List
Start - The list currently has 29 things on it.
Month 2 - Replaced the bathroom sinks. 7 to go.
Month 3 - Multiple projects in the works.
Month 6 - 2 more projects done. Redid bricks in the backyard and added landscape lighting. 5 to go.

9. Finish skinning the top of the hovercraft
Start - Hopefully I can make some time to get to it this year.

10. Get my 5K time under 25 minutes
Start - My current best is 28:32

11. Collect and photograph all of the Star Wars Comics
Start - I changed strategies towards the end of the year on this. Currently I have 3 comic boxes complete and with pictures. Now I need to finish collecting the comics and photograph all of them resulting in 8 total boxes. Currently the remaining 5 all are partially done.
Month 1 - Slowly collecting more comics. Almost finished off box #4.
Month 2 - Box #4 is complete. 4 boxes to go.
Month 6 - I have about 30 comics left to get before I have completed my collection.

12. Submit my Masters Thesis for Publication 
Start - This was the last big thing I had left to get published which I wrote before.

13. Defeat 5 Star Wars Games
Start - With collecting so many games that I have not had time to play I want to set aside some game time.
Month 4 - 1 game done. 4 to go.

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Lately I have spent much of my time working on projects at work, not leaving much time for personal projects. Also I ran Ragnar, which took up a lot of time prepping for that. Hopefully I can use this month to get back on track.