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Don Quixote: A New Translation by Edith Grossman    by Miguel De Cervantes & Edith Grossman order for
Don Quixote
by Miguel De Cervantes
Order:  USA  Can
Ecco, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Marian Powell

It is often said that you cannot read Don Quixote unless you can read it in Spanish. That used to be true. I recall being inspired to read this classic novel by the play Man of La Mancha, and quickly being bored by a wooden English translation. The problem was that Cervantes wrote at the same time as Shakespeare and therefore older translations tended to reflect in their use of language the sense that they were translating a classic.

Today, it is finally possible to read Don Quixote in English, and to get a feel for the way it was originally written, and what Miguel De Cervantes intended to convey. The new translation by Edith Grossman is fresh, lively and exciting. Chapter one begins 'Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.' A little later, we learn 'In short, our gentleman became so caught up in reading that he spent his nights reading from dusk till dawn and his days reading from sunrise to sunset, and so with too little sleep and too much reading his brains dried up, causing him to lose his mind.'

Harold Bloom's introduction tells us that the author, Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) began to write his novel while in debtor's prison, after adventures that included fighting in the battle of Lepanto and enslavement by Barbary pirates - an unusual background for an author by any standards. Edith Grossman says in her 'Translator's Note to the Reader' that her intention was 'to recreate for the reader in English the experience of the reader in Spanish ... Cervantes ... wrote in a crackling up-to-date Spanish ... a modern language that both reflected and helped to shape the way people experienced the world.' She succeeds completely. Don Quixote, the classic, all 900+ pages of it, is now available to be read and enjoyed anew.

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