I took part in the 12th Annual Continuous Reading of Don Quixote yesterday. (The photo is of the reader after me.)
It's held in the Hall of Columns theater on the 4th floor of the Círculo de Bellas Artes, a cultural institution in downtown Madrid, and it takes 48 hours to read the whole book. Anyone can volunteer to read a few paragraphs, so why not me, despite my accent?
I went up to theater lobby, got my volunteer number, and went into the hall. About 100 people were inside, listening as one reader after another took the podium on the spare and dramatically lit stage. A monitor on a wall announced that they were reading from Book II, Chapter 18, which deals with what happened to Don Quixote in the castle of the Knight of the Green Doublet.
A camera crew filmed the reading for close-circuit TV throughout the building, and a radio technician monitored the live transmission on Radio Círculo 100.4 FM. A movie screen showed clips from movie adaptations of the book. An interpreter presented the words in sign language.
Volunteers came in all types and ages. Three men read their sections in Esperanto. Entire families read. Young children stumbled but bravely made it through their paragraphs. Don Quixote is a funny book, and some readers couldn't help smiling as they read. Everyone got a brief round of applause when they finished.
My number came up. As the volunteer ahead of me read, I went to the table on stage to sign the log book, then got my assignment. I had time to read it through silently once before it was my turn to stand behind the lectern — just me, bright lights, and these words of Miguel de Cervantes:
"Verdaderamente, señor Quijote," dijo don Lorenzo, "que deseo coger a vuestra merced en un mal latín continuado, y no puedo, porque se me desliza de entre las manos como anguila.
"No entiendo," respondió don Quijote, "lo que vuestra merced dice ni queire decir en eso del deslizarme."
"Yo me daré a entender," respondió don Lorenzo, "y por ahora esté vuesa merced atento a los versos glosado y a la glosa, que dicen desta manera:
¡Si mi fue tornarse a es,
sin esperar más será,
o vinese el tiempo ya
de lo que será después!...