Ilan Stavans asks "Why Should You Read 'Don Quixote'?"

In a recent Ted-Ed video, Ilan Stavans, Restless Books Publisher and noted Cervantes’ scholar, delves into the nature of character development and the continuing cultural importance of Cervantes’ masterpiece. Accompanied by endearing illustrations and animation, ‘Why Should You Read Don Quixote?’ explores the compelling personal growth of Don Quixote through his clumsy yet valiant antics with his steadfast companion Sancho Panza and the enduring popularity and relevance of what is widely considered to be the best-selling novel of all time. Ilan asks the perennial question: What makes this book so beloved? In exploring major themes and the relationship between Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Stavans investigates underlying philosophical complexities in this tale of adventure, humor, love and friendship. Indeed, Cervantes’ work is not only considered by many to be the first modern novel, but it is also a “treatise on the power of creativity and individualism that has inspired art, literature, popular culture and even political revolution” that continues to resonate with readers on a global scale.

TED-Ed, an extension of TED, carefully curates educational videos with animations, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed website. TED-Ed, not unlike TED, is committed to creating lessons worth sharing and spreading great ideas. Watch the TED-Ed video to learn more about Don Quixote and check out the Restless Classics edition of Don Quixote with beautiful illustrations by Eko and an introduction by Ilan Stavans.

Watch a Video Introduction to Mary Shelley's ‘Frankenstein’

The Restless Classics 200th Anniversary edition of Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley, comes with a new introduction by renowned author and critic Francine Prose and a free online video lecture series taught by Penn professor of English Wendy Steiner. The towering masterpiece of gothic fiction that spawned the horror and science-fiction genres is the most recent installment of Restless Classics: interactive encounters with great books and inspired teachers. Each Restless Classic is beautifully designed with original artwork, a new introduction for the trade audience, and an online video teaching series led by passionate experts.

In this first video in the series Professor Steiner discusses Mary Shelley’s background and the origins of Frankenstein.

Mary Shelley was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, an intellectual of great stature in the late 18th century who was deeply versed in the philosophy and political theory of her time, and who wrote one of the great classics of feminist thought, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Her daughter Mary was the last of several children she had by different men, and Wollstonecraft died ten days after giving birth, leaving Mary to grow up without a mother in the house of her father, William Godwin. Godwin was also a preeminent intellectual of the day, and through his living room came London’s leading lights of intellectual and artistic life. While she didn’t go to school, Mary was exposed to some of the newest and most exciting artistic and scientific ideas in circulation. It was in that living room that Mary met her future husband, the poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. In 1814, when she was 16 years old, Mary ran off with Percy to Switzerland. Two years later they returned and lived in a house in the mountains above Geneva, next-door to a villa where Shelley’s friend Lord Byron was staying. One stormy night, the group, including Byron’s physician John William Polidori and Mary’s step-sister Claire Claremont, decided to have a ghost-story writing contest. That night Mary had a dream about bringing a dead body to life with electricity, and out of that dream came Frankenstein.

Watch: Cuban Heavy-Metal/Sci-Fi Star Yoss Revealed in a Video Documentary

The extremely photogenic Cuban heavy-metal/sci-fi star Yoss also has a tremendous screen presence. For those who have heard a lot about the author lately and want to see him in action, or those readers who have loved A Planet for Rent and want to see the man behind that "highly original, awesome" work, here are a few videos that might sate you! 


Not only is he Cuba's most lauded living science fiction writer, published both in his home country and around the world, Yoss also sings in heavy metal band Tenaz, holds black belts in multiple martial arts, and nurtures the next generation of Cuba's genre writers. In David Shook's eighteen-minute portrait, Yoss discusses recent developments in US-Cuba relations, the science fiction genre's relevance in contemporary Cuba, and his vision for the Cuba(s) of the future.

Featuring interviews with Yoss, science fiction writers Elaine Vilar Madruga and Raúl Aguiar Alvarez, and Yoss's mom, as well as music by Cuban heavy metal band Tenaz, recorded live in one of Havana's abandoned baroque palaces, Yoss: A Portrait was filmed entirely on location in Havana, Cuba from January 15th through 22nd, 2015.


A Phoneme Media Film
Director David Shook
Executive Producer Mark Shook


Yoss's band Tenaz unfortunately isn't on iTunes or touring the U.S. just yet—although, the way things are going, we're hoping those things will happen soon! In the meantime, check out their music video for "El que a hierra mata." To a heavy metal tune full of roaring vocals, flashy guitar licks, and on-point cowbell hits, Yoss and his band chase a robed specter around an abandoned Havana mansion in homemade Guy Fawkes masks.

Directed by Rufo de Armas
Produced by Destellos