The first novel in Daniel S. Burt's book was Don Quixote. The only thing I knew about the book before reading it was that it is a parody about knights.
While reading the book I remembered fondly my very first university level paper I ever wrote on Chilvaric love. This paper was wrote for my first year history class, before I even really knew how to write a proper essay. I never understood the idea at the time, but was interested in the topic having spent much of my youth following the anti dating movement popular in Christian circles at the time. I see now that I used the idea of "courting" as a way to opt out of real life (and unfortunately in the process missed out on a whole skill set necessary for relationships with the opposite sex). That, however, is somewhat besides the point.
What pray tell is chivalric love? In my history paper I wrote all about knights with their chaste love of their ladies. Knights in the 15th century roamed the earth providing the world with good deeds done in the names of their ladies. They also composed poems on their behalf, but other than that, had little to no actual contact with the ladies they were enamored with.
Don Quixote paradoies this to the extreme, in that he has never even seen the lady of his affections...but only heard people talking about her. Armed shoddily with homemade armor, a scrawny horse named Rocinante and a humorous and simpleminded page named Sancho Don Quixote sets out into the world in search of adventures. What he finds are several humorous and painful interactions with people who can't believe that "knights errant" exist outside of the novels. Some of these encounters are interesting while others moves slowly and are harder to follow. The people Don Quixote meets generally find him humorous and try to stop his percieved madness by talking him out of his insane venture. Despite that, by the end of the 2nd part of his "history", he has fans who are disappointed when he renounces chilvary and all of knight errantry.
I can't say I took much from the novel except for the notion that following your dreams (no matter how bizarre) brings joy not only to you, but others around you. Despite that fact, the journey is hardly, if ever an easy one.
I did find one quote that I liked:
"Everything beautiful is lovable, but I cannot grasp why, simply, because it is loved, the thing loved for its beauty is obliged to love the one who loves it"
Unrequited love is a sad situation, but cannot be blamed on just the beloved. They are no more obliged to love someone simply because they are loved by them.
Does the novel deserve the title of number one book of all time? Not in my books, although I understand what it was for it's time. The author of "The Novel 100", Daniel S. Burt, makes very certain that people know his list is his personal idea of the greatest novels, and that other people can feel free to differ with him. In fact, he encourages it.
Book two on the list is War and Peace which I have already read (and recently at that). For more information on what I think about that book please read my review in my blog magic-and-mystery.blogspot.com Book three on the list is Ulysses by James Joyce. I am not really looking forward to reading this one, but perhaps it will suprise me! I am aiming to read each of these books in about 3 weeks. I have had some requests to post the booklist, which I will attempt to do even though I have to enter all 100 books by hand. Happy reading folks.