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Monday October 4, 2010

Spain's errant knight to become YouTube hit?

Some years ago I foolishly attempted to read both volumes of Don Quixote, the 17th century masterpiece by Spanish author, Miguel de Cervantes. It didn’t help that I had bought them in the Spanish language. Reading all 1000 pages of the epic tale in English would have proved challenging enough.

It’s fair to say that I persevered and managed to read sizeable chunks of the book in both English and Spanish and much as I accepted that it was a splendid example of the Golden Age of Spanish literature, it didn’t really float my boat. I’m sure that expressing such a view will have devoted Quixote fans reaching for the smelling salts but I feel a degree of honesty is in order now that the Royal Spanish Academy has embarked on an ambitious Don Quixote project with YouTube.

In an effort to spread the splendour of the Spanish language, the Academy is inviting volunteers to read sections of the book which has been divided into 2,149 parts, and to upload them to YouTube. Anyone can participate providing the section chosen is read in the Spanish language. The tale of Don Quixote, a retired gentleman from La Mancha who takes off on a whim with his side kick, Sancho Panza, to carry out deeds of great chivalry is a work of great imagination and humor, albeit drenched in pathos. The delusional would-be knight inevitably finds himself in farcical situations that make a mockery of his noble intentions. The problem for me was that the book was far too lengthy and I found myself longing for Don Quixote to give up his absurd quest and return to a good romantic tome by the fire with his feet up.

Those with an appetite for heroic endeavour and who speak fluent Spanish, should visit the Don Quixote YouTube page for further details. Not surprisingly the Royal Spanish Academy doesn’t seem to have put a deadline on the project. I have a feeling that with 2,149 sections to cover, the Don Quixote YouTube project will run and run.

First appeared at

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