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Don Quixote is an established masterpiece of world literature, so there is no point in reviewing the work itself. This review concentrates on the qualities of the narrator and, to a lesser extent, the translation.
Audible has several other fine editions of the unabridged Quixote. So which one should you get? The answer is simple: get the one narrated by David Case.
Forget the negative reviews of the narrator. Those reviewers simply do not know what they are talking about. David Case, also known as Frederick Davidson (and many other names depending on what company he was recording for), is probably the best narrator ever to live. This is not only my opinion. Just google his name and you'll see that he has won more awards for narration than anyone else in the world with the possible exception of Sir Derek Jacobi. He was first ballot Audio File Hall of Fame narrator, "Golden Voice," as they say, with more than 700 narrations to his credit. A negative review of David Case reading is like a negative review of Magic Johnson playing basketball.
One negative review questions the use of a narrator with an English accent. That is just bizarre. What accent should they have used? A West Texas accent? Would a Spanish accent have been better? If so, then should Brothers Karamazov be read with a Russian accent, Magic Mountain with a German accent, etc.?
It is true that while David Case is an amazing narrator, this is not his finest performance. There are a few recording errors, and the quality is not quite up to modern standards--the recording was done in the 1980s.
Nonetheless, Case captures the contrasts in tone better than any other narrator could. And getting those contrasts right is essential to the humor of Don Quixote. What make the book so funny is that the main character's language is completely out of place with whatever circumstances he is in. Even though he is mad, he remains the quintessential straight man taking everything far too seriously and literally. The rich tones of Case's upper-class British accent are perfect here.
Not only does Case get the Don's voice pitch perfect, but he also gets Sancho absolutely spot on. I don't know enough about British accents, but he definitely uses a working class one for Sancho. Case's voice also perfectly captures subtleties like the cruelty of the Duke.
In conclusion, get this version for the narration alone.
Let's now turn to the translation briefly. The only negative here is that it is not the latest version. Case reads from Walter Starkie's 1957 translation--a very fine work, but probably not as good as Edith Grossman's. I first read Don Quixote using Starkie's translation. I am now reading Grossman's. My Spanish is now good enough to read Don Quixote (although with some difficulty) in the original, and Starkie's version seems fine to me. Very few people in the world would be able to tell a good translation of Don Quixote from a great one. I certainly cannot. You would not only need to be perfectly and equally fluent in English and Spanish, but also a pretty competent scholar in the Spanish of the early 17th Century. How many people can really say that?
So even though this reading is not in the (probably better) Grossman translation, you should still get this version.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
I realize that this is a tough book to get through, but be assured that you will be rewarded if you stay with it. It is quite dense, but the beauty of this piece is at least as much in its richness of language as it is in the actual adventures. In fact, the encounters with windmills, and the likes, weren't that funny in my opinion. It is the human interactions that had me laughing out loud more times than I could count. Great book and a difinite masterpiece of literature. Cervantes' style and originality is truly impressive.
As far as the narration goes, I can see why some people don't like it, but I really grew to love it. The narrator does a fantastic job acting out the characters, adding color to the experience.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful