- Paperback: 880 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (January 17, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 039397281X
- ISBN-13: 978-0393972818
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Don Quijote (Norton Critical Editions) 0th Edition
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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.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
"His fantasy filled with everything he had read in his books, enchantments as well as combats, battles, challenges, wounds, courtings, loves, torments, and other impossible foolishness, and he became so convinced in his imagination of the truth of all the countless grandiloquent and false inventions he read that for him no history in the world was truer."
"He filled his imagination full to bursting with everything he read in his books, from witchcraft to duels, battles, challenges, wounds, flirtations, love affairs, anguish, and impossible foolishness, packing it all so firmly into his head that these sensational schemes and dreams became the literal truth and, as far as he was concerned, there were no more certain histories anywhere on earth."
Grossman's sentence is more difficult to scan, and less concrete. Raffel's clear, no less fine prose in paragraphs like this brings the character of Don Quixote to life.
Cervantes did not write Don Quijote to please literary critics or scholars. He makes that clear in the prologue, where he skewers them. He was writing for Everyman. The Underdog. Joe Blow. The common guy… blue collar workers.
Well, guess what. That’s me.
I’m not a scholar specializing in 17th century Spanish literature. I’m just some middle class guy in the U.S. pushing 50 who has never read the famous Don Quijote. And even though there was a time when I was translating between English and Spanish on a daily basis, and actually dreaming in Spanish, it’s not my first language. So not only am I Joe Blow, but I’m Joe Blow once removed, digging into an English translation of a Spanish masterpiece.
Given that, Burton Raffel is the translator for me. His language is clear and his footnotes are opening doors of understanding that would have remained closed to me anywhere else.
On page 20, for example, Raffel’s footnote is, “Don Quijote recites the first two lines of a poem from a popular sixteenth-century romance; the innkeeper responds with the next two lines.” When I read this same passage from another edition without the footnote, I had no idea that the innkeeper was playing a game with Quijote… an old-school version of ‘quoting song lyrics from the same song.’ Suddenly I understand more about the innkeeper, more about the relationship between the two, and more about Quijote and the power of his delusions.
Raffel’s insights help me to see the inside joke again on page 26, where Don Quijote bestows upon the prostitutes the honorable title of “Doña,” and the footnotes explain: “Don Quijote tries to ennoble these prostitutes, whose lineage does not entitle them to the honorific title of ‘Doña.’ His aristocratic address, however, ironically coincides with the practice of ‘real life’ Spanish Renaissance prostitutes.”
A scholar focusing on the period would know that. A native Spanish speaker familiar with the times would probably know that. I did not know that, but Raffel draws back the curtain so I, too, can take a peek behind the scenes… Even a guy like ME is invited to the party.
Cervantes was not writing to be elitist; rather, he was poking fun at elitism, and in doing so, he was reaching out to the masses. My judgment is that Raffel’s approach carries on this spirit of reaching out to Everyman by shining light on what might remain obscured or lost in translation. Knowing as little as I do about the chivalric romances of the 1600’s and of Spanish literature in general, I get the feeling as I read Cervantes for the first time that he, the author, is sitting to my left, Raffel to my right, and I’m in the middle, turning the pages with a grin on my face. And every now and again, as Cervantes is laughing his head off and I’m trying to figure out why, Raffel reaches over, points to a phrase, and explains it to me in words I can understand.
Raffel helps Cervantes bring me to a deeper understanding of myself.
So if Spanish literature happens to be your passion, your specialty, your career, you may not appreciate Raffel's translation the way I do. You may find other editions more satisfying. But whether or not others throw stones at Raffel's work, I can tell you it's precisely the right version for me.
i had to abandon it because the print is unreadably small with lines way too close together.
none of the other translations engage me, alas.
so he goes unread, don quixote.