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El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
publisher: Juan de la Cuesta, Madrid, 1605 / 1615

translated as:
Don Quixote
publisher: Querido, Amsterdam, 2003
translation: John Rutherford

–› Excerpt

refered to by:
Madame Bovary: Patterns of Provincial Life
Gustave Flaubert

Max Havelaar or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Laurence Sterne

The Iliad

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain

Bleak House
Charles Dickens

One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel García Márquez

James Joyce

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera

Vladimir Nabokov

Bob Rigter

This Blinding Absence of Light
Tahar Ben Jelloun

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Don Quixote is considered a profound delineation of two conflicting attitudes toward the world: idealism and realism. The work has been appreciated as a satire on unrealistic extremism, an exposition of the tragedy of idealism in a corrupt world, and a plea for widespread reform. Whatever its intended emphasis, the work presented to the world an unforgettable description of the transforming power of illusion, and it has had an indelible effect on the development of the European novel.
Don Quixote is a country gentleman who has read too many chivalric
romances. He and the peasant Sancho Panza, who serves as his squire, set forth on a series of extravagant adventures. The whole fabric of 16th-century Spanish society is detailed with piercing yet sympathetic insight. The addled idealism of Don Quixote and the earthy acquisitiveness of Sancho serve as catalysts for numerous humorous and pathetic exploits and incidents. Its panorama of characters, the excellence of its tales, and its vivid portrayal of human nature contribute to the enduring influence of Don Quixote.



Amadis de Gaule
Garcia-Rodriguez de Montalvo, 1508
A Spanish chivalric romance - parodied by Cervantes in his Don Quixote - which grew to be a 21-part series.

[Palmerin de Inglaterra]
Francisco de Moraes, 1567
Together with Amadis de Gaule, this Portuguese chivalric romance has a place of honor in Don Quixote's library. Even the village priest spares it from the flames...

Tirant lo Blanc
Joanot Martorell, 1460
First published in the Catalan language in Valencia in 1490, Tirant lo Blanc ('The White Tyrant') is a sweeping epic of chivalry and high adventure.
'I swear to you, my friend, it's the best book of its kind in the world.'
- Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

The Praise of Folly
Desiderius Erasmus, 1510
A satire on the pretensions of Erasmus's contemporaries in the Church and philosophy, written for the amusement of his learned friend Thomas More.

Gargantua and Pantagruel
François Rabelais, 1532-1553
The classic satirical and ribald tale about the travels of Gargantua and Pantagruel, set in the French countryside.

Lazarillo de Tormes
Anonymous, 1554
The first picaresque novel: a brief, simply told tale of a rogue’s adventures and misadventures - full of laconic cynicism and spiced with puns and wordplay.

Orlando Furioso
Ludovico Ariosto, 1532
A brilliantly witty parody of the medieval romances, and a fitting monument to the court society of the Italian Renaissance which gave them birth.


Don Quixote
1605 / 1615
–› Excerpt

A comic study of delusion and its consequences; Don Quixote, the old gentleman of La Mancha, takes to the road in search of adventure and remains undaunted in the face of repeated disaster.

The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus
Hans Jakob Christoph von Grimmelshausen, 1668
The vagabond adventures of a not-so-simple simpleton during one of Europe's fiercest, yet ultimately most futile wars.

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Laurence Sterne, 1759-1767
This book interweaves the birth and life of the unfortunate 'hero' Tristram Shandy, the eccentric philosophy of his father Walter, the amours and military obsessions of Uncle Toby, and a host of other characters.

Madame Bovary: Patterns of Provincial Life
Gustave Flaubert, 1857
Emma Bovary, a young country doctor' s wife, seeks escape from the boredom of her existence in love affairs and romantic yearnings, but is doomed to disillusionment.

Elias Canetti, 1935
This is the story of a distinguished scholar in Germany between the wars. It builds up the elements in the scholar himself, and in his personal relationships, which will lead to his destruction.

A Confederacy of Dunces
John Kennedy Toole, 1980
A monument to sloth, rant and contempt, and suspicious of anything modern - meet Ignatius J. Reilly of New Orleans, crusader against dunces.

James Joyce, 1922
Stylistically varied Homer-parody about the Dublin everyman Leopold Bloom, who emerges as surrogate father to Stephen Dedalus on the day his wife Molly sleeps with another man.

Dead Souls
Nikolai Gogol, 1842
In this quintessentially Russian novel, the reader follows Chichikov, a dismissed civil servant turned con-man, through the countryside in pursuit of his shady enterprise.

Moby Dick
Herman Melville, 1851
The Nantucket whaling ship, the Pequod, spirals the globe in search of Moby Dick, the mythical white whale of the Southern Oceans.

Henderson the Rain King
Saul Bellow, 1959
Henderson has come to Africa on a spiritual safari, a quest for 'the truth.' His feats of strength, his passion for life, and, most importantly, his inadvertant 'success' in bringing rain have made him a god-like figure among the tribes.

The Flatteners, starring Sir Oliver Bommel
Marten Toonder, 1969 / 1972
Adventures of Sir Oliver Bommel - a most aristocratic bear - and his best friend Tom Puss.

The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War
Jaroslav Hasek, 1920-1923
The deeply funny story of a hapless Czech soldier in the Austro-Hungarian army - dismissed for incompetence only to be pressed into service by the Russians in World War I (where he is captured by his own troops).

Joseph Heller, 1961
At the heart of Joseph Heller's bestselling novel, first published in 1961, is a satirical indictment of military madness and stupidity, and the desire of the ordinary man to survive it.

Jan Arends, 1972
Autobiographical stories about life in a mental institution.

Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
The story of Humbert Humbert and his obsession with 12-year-old Dolores Haze. Determined to possess his 'Lolita' both carnally and artistically, Humbert embarks on a disastrous courtship that can only end in tragedy.

Jorges Luis Borges, 1935/ 1944 / 1949
Not quite short stories, Borgesian narrations are metaphysical speculation, the elaborate working out of a hypothetical premise or philosophical concept.

The Black Book
Orhan Pamuk, 1990
Galip, an Istanbul lawyer, suspects that his vanished wife is hiding out with her half-brother, a newspaper columnist whose fame Galip envies. Galip plays the part of private investigator, with dire consequences.

A pastoral romance.
Exemplary Stories
More popular in their day than Don Quixote, Cervantes' Exemplary Stories defy the conventions of heroic chivalric literature through a combination of comic irony, moral ambiguity,
realism, and sheer mirth.
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