From the Publisher
“A more profound and powerful work than this is not to be met with…[It is] the final and greatest utterance of the human mind.” –Fyodor Dostoevsky
“It can be said that all prose fiction is a variation on the theme of Don Quixote.” –Lionel Trilling
“[Don Quixote is] the first and best of all novels, which nevertheless is more than a novel.” –Harold Bloom
“When Don Quixote went out into the world, that world turned into a mystery before his eyes. That is the legacy of the first European novel to the entire subsequent history of the novel. The novelist teaches its reader to comprehend the world as a question.” –Milan Kundera
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As in Williams's Greek Myths for Young Children and Joseph and His Magnificent Coat of Many Colors , engagingly busy, ornately bordered, comic strip-style artwork gives new and buoyant life to a familiar story. The characteristic understatement of her text, juxtaposed with the humorous mutterings of a quirky cast (delivered in cartoon balloons), breezily chronicles Quixote's hapless quest to ``right all wrongs and protect all damsels.'' (Though Williams's rendition seems appropriate for the intended audience, literary purists may object on principle to the abridgement of such a venerable classic.) Here the would-be knight is rendered as quite the buffoon, as he prepares to tilt at windmills he mistakes for ``giants'' and battle two ``armies'' that are actually flocks of sheep. Time after time, Quixote and sidekick Sancho Panza are badly battered (the former is shown losing his ear and some teeth), but always brush themselves off and continue ``on their way in search of new adventure worthy of so famous a knight and his faithful squire.'' A fun way to become acquainted with this masterpiece. Ages 7-up. (Mar.)
Cervantes's masterpiece Don Quixote , Henry Fielding's favorite novel, was also much admired by Fielding's contemporary Smollett, who published a vigorous, highly readable translation in 1755. Eighteenth-century collections will be enriched by this edition (not reissued since the 19th century, and never published in America), which includes Smollett's life of Cervantes, his note on the translation, and his annotations to the novel. The foreword and introduction by Fuentes, however, are disappointing; concentrating on Cervantes and his times they tell us almost nothing about the raison d'etre for this edition, Smollett's translation. Smollett's pungent, jocular prose is ideally suited for his task; his translation makes a delightful alternative to the various attempts to render Don Quixote into modern English. Peter Sabor, English Dept., Queen's Univ., Kingston, Ont.
Read an Excerpt
The Life of CervantesCopyright 2001 by Miguel de Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was at once the glory and reproach of Spain; for, if his admirable genius and heroic spirit conduced to the honour of his country, the distress and obscurity which attended his old age, as effectually redounded to her disgrace. Had he lived amidst Gothic darkness and barbarity, where no records were used, and letters altogether unknown, we might have expected to derive from tradition, a number of particulars relating to the family and fortune of a man so remarkably admired even in his own time. But, one would imagine pains had been taken to throw a veil of oblivion over the personal concerns of this excellent author. No inquiry hath, as yet, been able to ascertain the place of his nativity;1 and, although in his works he has declared himself a gentleman by birth, no house has hitherto laid claim to such an illustrious descendant.
One author* says he was born at Esquivias; but, offers no argument in support of his assertion: and probably the conjecture was founded upon the encomiums which Cervantes himself bestows on that place, to which he gives the epithet of Renowned, in his preface to Persiles and Sigismunda.2 Others affirm he first drew breath in Lucena, grounding their opinion upon a vague tradition which there prevails: and a third* set take it for granted that he was a native of Seville, because there are families in that city known by the names of Cervantes and Saavedra; and our author mentions his having, in his early youth, seen plays acted by Lope Rueda, who was a Sevilian. These, indeed, are presumptions that deserve some regard, tho', far from implying certain information, they scarce even amount to probableconjecture: nay, these very circumstances seem to disprove the supposition; for, had he been actually descended from those families, they would, in all likelihood, have preserved some memorials of his birth, which Don Nicholas Antonio would have recorded, in speaking of his fellow-citizen. All these pretensions are now generally set aside in favour of Madrid, which claims the honour of having produced Cervantes, and builds her title on an expression? in his Voyage to Parnassus, which, in my opinion, is altogether equivocal and inconclusive.
In the midst of such undecided contention, if I may be allowed to hazard a conjecture, I would suppose that there was something mysterious in his extraction, which he had no inclination to explain, and that his family had domestic reasons for maintaining the like reserve. Without admitting some such motive, we can hardly account for his silence on a subject that would have afforded him an opportunity to indulge that self-respect which he so honestly displays in the course of his writings. Unless we conclude that he was instigated to renounce all connexion with his kindred and allies, by some contempt'ous flight, mortifying repulse, or real injury he had sustained; a supposition which, I own, is not at all improbable, considering the jealous sensibility of the Spaniards in general, and the warmth of resentment peculiar to our author, which glows through his productions, unrestrained by all the fears of poverty, and all the maxims of old age and experience.
From the Hardcover edition.