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Don Quijote: The History of that Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quijote de la Mancha

4.4 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393315097
ISBN-10: 0393315096
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A translator of Horace, Balzac, Rabelais, and Salvador Espriu, as well as a theorist (The Art of Translating Prose, Pennsylvania State Univ. Pr., 1994), Raffel (Univ. of Southwest Louisiana) undertook the formidable task of translating Cervantes's masterpiece because he was uncomfortable recommending any of the existing translations. There are some real differences here. Raffel has junked the traditional transcription of Cide Hamete, the pseudoauthor, in favor of the less "colonialist" and more authentic Arabic, Sidi Hamid. Proper names that contain puns are explained within square brackets, and footnotes are kept to a minimum. A more vernacular style reigns: The blow on the neck and the stroke on the shoulder that dub Don Quijote a knight are, respectively, a "whack" and a "tap." The women at the inn, usually called "wenches," are "party-girls" or "whores." Sancho dreams that his "old lady" will someday be a queen and that his "kids" will be princes. In the proofs, "Castile" has been misspelled as "Castille," an oversight one would hope to see corrected in the final book. This is a lively alternative to the wide assortment of truly old-fashioned translations. Recommended.?Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Raffel has managed, by extremely careful research, to keep the flavor of the late-seventeenth-century Spanish, at the same time that the English is very smooth. . . . Indeed, Raffel seems to have created a Cervantine English. -- Javier Herrero, University of Virginia --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393315096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393315097
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,424,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I've spent a bit of time comparing the early pages of Burton Raffel's decade-old rendition with Edith Grossman's brand new one. Both are excellent, so you can't go wrong---and I think either would be a better choice for most people than past translations. I've chosen Raffel's, though, based not only on word choices (and I think some people need to lower their antennae when it comes to things such as Sancho referring to his "kids", which seems quite natural), but on Raffel's better balanced, more focused style, and his clarity of phrasing (which also involves word choices). Raffel's style overall is traditional. Grossman seems to jump between the literal, which is sometimes confusing, and the breezy and modern, which is enjoyable but not as wry and witty as Raffel's balanced approach.

For example, Grossman's description after our hero has tried to grapple with the philosophical convolutions of de Silva: "With these words and phrases the poor gentleman lost his mind, and he spent sleepless nights trying to understand them, and extract their meaning. . . ." Raffel writes: "Arguments like these cost the poor gentleman his sanity; he'd lie awake at night, trying to understand them, to puzzle out their meaning. . . ." A minor example, but with Raffel's rhythm and word choice you can almost visualize the old fellow lying awake trying to "puzzle out" the "arguments"---not just "words and phrases," per se. Raffel is often more subtly attuned. Notice also that "cost the poor gentleman his sanity" is not as modern-sounding as "lost his mind." So don't think that because Raffel uses a few modern word choices for the sake of vigor that he's less distinguished.
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By A Customer on August 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
As he has with previous translations, Raffel has again proved himself a master at providing an old classic in a fresh and readable way. This edition is even more vitally rendered than the Putnam translation or the Cohen one. While it's true that this work reads more like a loose collection of short stories than like the sort of tightly organized novels we expect today, it still remains an old friend to many of us, and for first readers this translation is direct and passionate.
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Format: Paperback
My desert island choice? I think so. Funny as hell and beautifully written. How on earth did Cervantes create this sprawling masterpiece which sounds like it was written yesterday ALMOST 400 YEARS AGO? Before you ride into the sunset with "Don Quijote" take a look at Fadiman's brief synopsis in "The New Lifetime Reading Plan." But ignore his suggestions on translations, written BEFORE Raffel's peerless translation was published.
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Format: Paperback
I often return to this granddaddy of novels, and consider this particular translation the best. Grossman's translation is stellar, but it lacks the brio, the spirited tone and zeal of BR's rendering. Certainly this translation is sometimes free-and-easy and best serves an American reader, but its rhythm and gusto more than compensate for the flaws an academic might stub her toe on, and that rush of vivid life, in my opinion, is the heart of Cervantes' work. Authentic phrase or authentic feel? I'll vote for the feel. De gustibus.
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Format: Paperback
'Don Quixote' is largely considered to be a satire on the popular chivalric ballads of Cervantes' day, but don't be fooled. This novel is no satire on chivalry, itself. Indeed, through the trials of Quixote and Sancho Panza, Cervantes is perhaps the greatest promoter of chivalric ideas that the West has ever known. No other protagonist so thoroughly embodies the ideals of heroism, romantic love, friendship, honor, discretion, trust, virtue, and adventure than does Don Quixote. It just so happens that he is insane, but the author is able to look beyond that. So too should the reader.

The knight's sallies are absolutely delightful and, it must be credited, alone prove Cervantes' genius in writing. The dialogue between Quixote and Sancho is excellent comedy, creating a duo that has gone unsurpassed in originality and endearment for five centuries. "Is it possible that Your Worship can be so thick skulled and brainless as to not perceive the truth of what I allege?" Classic.

But these adventures, hilarious as they may be, give us frame for a storehouse chivalric truisms, the like of which can be found in no other work of fiction. A sampling would include: "An author had better be applauded by the few that are wise than laughed at by the many that are foolish;" "Anyone who has been a good squire will never be a bad governor;" "There is a wide difference between flying and retreating; valor which is not founded on the base of discretion is termed temerity or rashness;" and "Whenever virtue shines in an emanant degree, she always meets with persecution."

The reader cannot help but to love such regal assuredness, such profound idealism. Ironically, Quixote's insanity never really contradicts his optimism and in fact vindicates it.
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By A Customer on November 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
In preparation for a class on the Quijote in English that I will be teaching next semester I ordered this book with high hopes but was annoyed and disappointed at several things.
The first is the inexplicable (and unexplained) elimination of the series of laudatory poems that should appear at the beginning of the work, especially the brilliant conversation between Babieca and Rocinante.
I agree about the translator's tics that another reviewer has mentioned. (More cow than sheep). If you would care to join me in being curmudgeonly and know the original look at the mess that is made of the Bodas de Camacho.
I ran across the translator's use of the dollar as unit of currency (¡Virgen Santa! ¿A quién se le ocurre?) before reading Raffel's explanation in the translator's notes, and even after his reasonable explanation of the etimology of "dollar" I want my maravedíes back.
On the other hand, the supporting materials (articles more than footnotes, although these more gratifying than the endnotes that other Quijote translations use) are a strong selling point for this volume rather than the new Penguin translation done by John Rutherford. On the other hand, I think that Rutherford's translation is better.
In summary, I would rate this translation of the masterpiece Don Quijote de la Mancha a 3+. (The plus for not following the irritating English-language tradition of calling the work and the protagonist "Don Quixote".
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