With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote has been generally recognized as the first modern novel. The book has been enormously influential on a host of writers, from Fielding and Sterne to Flaubert, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner, who reread it once a year, "just as some people read the Bible." This Penguin Classics edition includes John Rutherford's masterly new translation, which does full justice to the energy and wit of Cervantes's prose, as well as a brilliant new critical introduction by Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria.
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About the Author
Ilan Stavans (abridgement and new introduction)is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, USA. He is publisher of Restless Books and host of the NPR show In Contrast. He has rendered Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda and Juan Rulfo into English; Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and Richard Wilbur into Spanish; Isaac Bashevis Singer from Yiddish; Yehuda Amichai from Hebrew; and Miguel de Cervantes, Dickens and Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince into Spanglish. His award-winning books, adapted for radio, TV and theatre, have been translated into 20 languages. In 2018, he adapted Don Quixote de la Mancha into a best-selling graphic novel (illustrated by Venezuelan cartoonist Roberto Weil).
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The Life of 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 amountto probable conjecture: 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.
Table of Contents
|Translating Don Quixote||xxv|
|A Note on the Text||xxxix|
|The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha||1|
What People are Saying About This
One of the best adventure stories in the world.
What a unique monument is this book!... How its creative genius, critical, free, and human, soars above its age!
Don Quixote is the first modern novel, perhaps the most eternal novel ever written and certainly the fountainhead of European and American fiction: here we have Gogol and Dostoevsky, Dickens and Nabokov, Borges and Bellow, Sterne and Diderot in their genetic nakedness, once more taking to the road with the gentleman and the squire, believing the world is what we read and discovering that the world reads us.
The novelist teaches the reader to comprehend the world of a question.
Reading Group Guide
"Don Quixote is practically unthinkable as a living being," said novelist Milan Kundera. "And yet, in our memory, what character is more alive?"
Widely regarded as the world's first modern novel, Don Quixote chronicles the famous picaresque adventures of the noble knight-errant Don Quixote de La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain. This Modern Library edition presents the acclaimed Samuel Putnam translation of the epic tale, complete with notes, variant readings, and an Introduction by the translator.
The debt owed to Cervantes by literature is immense. From Milan Kundera: "Cervantes is the founder of the Modern Era. . . . The novelist need answer to no one but Cervantes." Lionel Trilling observed: "It can be said that all prose fiction is a variation on the theme of Don Quixote." Vladmir Nabokov wrote: "Don Quixote is greater today than he was in Cervantes's womb. [He] looms so wonderfully above the skyline of literature, a gaunt giant on a lean nag, that the book lives and will live through [his] sheer vitality. . . . He stands for everything that is gentle, forlorn, pure, unselfish, and gallant. The parody has become a paragon." And V. S. Pritchett observed: "Don Quixote begins as a province, turns into Spain, and ends as a universe. . . . The true spell of Cervantes is that he is a natural magician in pure story-telling."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I've always wanted to read this book because of the fact that it's considered one of the first (if not the first) novels published. I was surprised to find that it was actually rather funny and the themes explored still hold relevance for today's world. Some parts are funnier than others; there were hours during the narration where I was completely bored and wanted to skip ahead. However, I think the good stuff outweighs the bad for this one. And seriously, if you know anybody who takes movies, books, films, etc. stuff too seriously, then you will have some laughs at this novel.Besides, Don Quixote is a classic and I still recommend that everyone read it. It's also fun to see how the novel has evolved from the 1600's until now.As for reading this as an audiobook, well, to be honest, I didn't like the narration all that much. Not enough emotion was put in it, in my opinion. It wasn't told in monotone, but it was told in a distanced, controlled story-teller voice. Because of this, I found myself tuning out parts of the book because Whitfield's voice wasn't keeping my attention.
I liked this book better the first time I read it, but maybe that was because I didn't feel quite as rushed the first time around. It's easier for a teen to find time to wade through this very long book, than it is for an adult. It's still a reasonably enjoyable read, though.