But I realized that this is actually an interesting pair of books to read together. DQ is often referred to as the first modern novel. It's hard to say precisely what this is supposed to mean. I suppose it could roughly be explained by saying that just about every novel we would read today (written in the past 400 years or so) was influenced in some way by what Cervantes wrote circa 1600. Technically, stylistically, philosophically, novels today are descendants of DQ. This is the sort of claim that probably doesn't hold up well if you take it too far, so we won't get carried away. But it seems legitimate to say that, if you want to trace the history of the modern novel back as far as it can go, you won't find a better candidate for a big bang event than Cervantes.
And then there's Finnegans Wake. This may sound weird, but some people think that FW is the end of the modern novel. Its death and funeral. Which seems to make no sense, because obviously quite a few novels have been written since 1939. All this FW=end-of-the-novel-talk is referring to is the historical trajectory of European/American literature in the 20th century. Joyce seemed to hit some kind of limit, in terms of what can be done with the novel structurally and stylistically. Here is a graphical representation of what I'm trying to say.
when he writes about the difference between Status and Contract novelists.]
So that's the idea. I'm reading the beginning and the end of the novel. Sort of. So to speak. We'll see how it goes. If I don't finish them this time I don't think it's ever going to happen.