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Reading Groups

Don Quixote with Kannan Mahadevan

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Once a week Thursdays, 6:30 pm EST - 8:00 pm EST September 15 to November 3, 2022

Online via Zoom

The ‘With Book’ option includes the title required for this reading group at a 10% discount.


It is hard to overstate the influence of Miguel de Cervantes’ two-part 17th century novel, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. Indeed, it is now almost a commonplace that all of modern fiction has come out of the Knight’s cape. Its impact extends far beyond literature, though; adaptations of it abound in any medium that tells a story, from painting to music, ballet to the big screen. In this course, however, we’ll read the original, in all its baggy, comic splendor. In doing so, we’ll ask a crucial question in this time of spin-offs and sequels: how does the original measure up to its reputation? Is the Knight-errant’s tilting at windmills really the earliest example of ‘slapstick humor’? Is Cervantes, with his claim that he is merely recycling material written by an earlier Arab historian, a pioneer of metafiction? Or is Don Quixote really just a buddy comedy, Don Quixote and Sancho the original odd couple, quipping and bickering as they take the prototypical road trip? Or all of the above?

Our reading of the primary text will be supplemented by material contemporaneous with the novel, especially the literary romances which drive Don Quixote into such mad frenzies of chivalry. Finally, we’ll look at some of those more modern adaptations, and judge whether the line of descent from the original is straight and true, or a bit meandering, like the Knight himself.

For the first session, students should read the Prologue through Chapter XVII (from the First Part). 

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Led by

  • Kannah Mahadevan

    Kannan Mahadevan

    Kannan Mahadevan

    Kannan Mahadevan is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he earned an MFA in Fiction. He has taught creative writing workshops for the University of Iowa and the Berlin Writers’ Workshop, and currently teaches at the Brooklyn Waldorf School in Bed-Stuy. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Racquet. He lives in Brooklyn and is working on a novel.