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TOP 100 REVIEWERon January 28, 2017
There's only one original "Quixote", but there are literally dozens of translations, and an almost infinite number of commentaries about the quality, integrity and appeal of those various translations. But, if you would just like to sit down with a readable and fairly mainstream version there are two free Kindle volumes that offer you a happy choice.

The four "major" translations that are referenced over and over again are by Smollett, Grossman, Putnam, and Raffel. (There are roughly a dozen "minor" but well known and vigorously defended or reviled others.) But, the first translation, which was published in 1612, within just seven years of the release of "Quixote" itself, was by Thomas Shelton. The most popular translation after that, until the "modern" era, was Ormsby's 1885 version.

Happily, Kindle offers a free copy of Ormsby's version. It also offers a kindleunlimited, (and sometimes free as a promotion), copy of Gerald Davis' reworking of the Shelton version.

Some people favor Raffel, (although faulted for being too oversimplified), or Putnam, (faulted for being too colloquial). Grossman is the most modern, but is frequently criticized for taking great liberties and being almost purposefully prolix and obscure. Of course, each translator brought his or her own sense of style, and own sense of the work, to the project, and all of them felt fairly free to put their own authorial stamp on the book. Ormsby is highly regarded because of his scholarly effort to achieve "accuracy". The Davis book is highly regarded, although sometimes relegated to a niche position, because of the translator's attempt to find a middle ground between the Shelton original and a modern reader's sensibilities.

This Kindle Ormsby is the 1885 version, not the Norton update of 1981. But that's fine, since the update modernized some language but didn't change the text dramatically. As a bare public domain version you don't get notes, footnotes, modern annotations and the like. You do, however, get the full text, include Ormsby's analysis of prior translations. The book is formatted well enough and has a basic table of contents. It is readable, if unadorned.

The Kindleunlimited Davis is also barebones, although there is a nice preface by Davis. Again, the formatting and type editing is fine and unfussy. It is also perfectly readable.

I prefer the Davis version, but that really is a matter of personal taste. It is nice to be able to suggest that not only are these two freebies adequate, they do indeed have an honorable place amongst all of the best translations. As a consequence you do not have to lower your standards, or accept an inferior translation, when selecting one of these freebies as your text of choice.

Surprisingly, each Kindle version can be augmented, for a few dollars, with Audible Narration. The Ormsby narration is a bit more energetic, the Davis narration is more solemn. I only sampled them, but both seemed fairly engaging.

Please note, because there are so many editions of each and all of these books, and because Amazon is not at its best when mixing and matching books, editions, and reviews, it's important to mention which books this review refers to. The kindleunlimited Davis displays a white cover and a pencil or engraved image of Don Quixote framed in yellow. It clearly states that it is "The New Translation By Gerald J. Davis". The free Ormsby sports the generic Amazon public domain cover, in brown and buff. Don't mistakenly buy some expensive "collectible" mass market copy, unless that's what you want.
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on August 8, 2014
I am an expert on Cervantes (former editor of the journal of the Cervantes Society of America) and I have had quite some time finding out which translation it is, since it doesn't say. It is the translation of Charles Jarvis, simultaneously published in the U.S., and as he says, he is primarily relying on Motteux,.

A better choice, also free, is the translation of John Ormsby (1885), which is available from Project Gutenberg.

The introductions of both were good for their day, but a lot has happened in Cervantine studies and biography since then.

John Ormsby's translation was revised with backgrounds and sources, criticism by Joseph Ramon Jones; Kenneth Douglas and published by W.W. Norton in 1981. It is out of print, and I personally would prefer it to the new Norton translation. Used copies are available on Amazon for 50 cents.
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on July 11, 2017
Don Quixote, by Cervantes, is a brilliant piece of writing. Written in an eloquent and beautiful language, one which parallels Shakespeare and Homer, this book takes the reader on a journey with Don Quixote, an man past his prime, who lives in a delusional world of knights, beautiful damsels, honor and challenge - who, with his squire, Sancho, takes on imaginary enemies but with real blood and real pain. It is the story of a man who is obsessed with reviving the age of knighthood, who is seen as mad by those he meets, and yet who garners the admiration and support of people as his daring deeds and legend grows and spreads. I cannot compare the quality of this writing, in its depth and richness. It is a part of our language which is being lost to time, and yet, which inspires the mind and the imagination with its tantalizing animation of the vernacular. Cervantes was and remains a master, and Don Quixote will resonate through the corridors of time for ages to come, for it is a story with a message about principles, about leadership and about love. If you haven’t read it, do so. It enriches the mind and reminds us all that at the time of its publication in 1605, the “modern” world of that age, would experience a transformation in literature, and that ripple continues even now, into our “modern” times.
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on September 5, 2013
This review is for the Norton Critical Edition published in 1981, edited by Jones and Douglas.

Two modern translations of Don Quixote, those by Raffel (the newer Norton Critical Edition) and Grossman (the perennial bestseller), seem to dominate the market right now. I suspect I am not alone in being annoyed by Raffel's overzealous attempts to modernize the book and Grossman's stubborn refusal to use common words whenever possible. If you are looking for a compromise between the two, this is an excellent candidate.

This is a revision of the 1885 translation by Ormsby, who produced arguably the most accurate English translation of the book. The editors updated some of the language and added copious footnotes. The text reads very well, almost as well as Raffel's version, but also retains some of the features of the novel that have been lost in modern translations. Notably, Don Quixote takes great pleasure in using outdated language (e.g., "thou," "giveth"), even though the ordinary people he encounters don't understand his speeches. More recent translations have largely done away with this, simply conveying Don Quixote as being long-winded and overly descriptive, and always being met with dumbfounded reactions. Here you truly experience Don Quixote speaking like someone from a different generation than the rest of the characters.

Where Raffel translates Don Quixote's nickname as "the Knight of the Sad Face" and Grossman uses "the Knight of the Sorrowful Face," this edition uses the classic "Knight of the Mournful Countenance." Maybe not such a big deal, but it strikes me as disingenuous to use the emoticon-like "sad face" to describe what Sancho meant to refer to Don Quixote's worn-out, gaunt appearance.

Out of the translations I've read, this one contains none of the encumbrances I've found in Raffel (oversimplified), Grossman (pretentious), Smollett (archaic), Rutherford (reliant on British slang), Putnam (tastes like the 1950s), Montgomery (riddled with errors), Motteux (censored) or Lathrop (not as evocative). (I have yet to read Starkie's version.)

This is the edition of my favorite novel that I will always turn to, and I recommend it without hesitation. In my opinion, although Raffel has made the text more accessible, and Grossman has made it more artsy, the crown still belongs to the older Norton Edition for a wonderfully executed balancing act of accuracy and emotion.
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on December 24, 2016
Never a reader in my young years, the desire and effort didn't arrive until I was 60. I began reading Lee Child/Jack Reacher books. Mindless I suppose, but somehow reading those books fueled a fire in my deep down to read more. Came the time I started reading the classics. Books I was supposed to have read in high school, but found a way to avoid. Regrets come to mind, eh? Anyway, reading the classics for the first time at this age has been a wonderful experience, one I'm not capable of putting words to. That said, The Adventures of Don Quixote was an absolutely delightful read. Truly one of my, if not my favorite read of the 1st 60 or so classics I've read in the last two years. Absolutely loved it...
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on October 5, 2017
I do not recommend the book with the ISBN 9781545567630 and the UPC 9781545567630 because this is printed in probably a 6 point text and it is not the entire book. This edition does not provide a table of contents so one must search for a chapter if one must go back to it for reference. This book ends at the end of chapter 20 of volume 1. It is missing chapters 21-52 of volume 1 and all of volume 2 which has 74 chapters.
If you want a good edition of Don Quijote then purchase the Norton Critical Edition UPC 9780393972818 ISBN 0-393-97281-X
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on July 28, 2016
A great idea, much needed in Spanish, since Cervantes's Spanish has changed a lot since 1605 and 1616. Trapiello has been very respectful of Cervantes's prose, only "translating" into modern Spanish the words or colloquial expressions that are difficult to understand today. His edition of Cervantes's masterpiece helps even the cultured reader to understand and enjoy Don Quijote. I am a Cervantes's scholar and I would recommend this edition to anyone who has been afraid to read Cervantes's magisterial novel. Gracias, Trapiello!
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on September 24, 2017
ZERO STARS. The book I got has not a single picture and is a cheaply printed computer job of six point font inside the covers with no page numbers! It is virtually unreadable. It might be only about 120 pages long. Do not buy this book.
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on December 24, 2015
As most others have simply said "This is Miguel de Cervantes' legendary classic" and not touched upon the merits of this edition, I will attempt to do so. Samuel Putnam does a fine job in the translation, and he has quite a time telling you so himself in his translator's notes. It reads like an political attack ad. This is what you'd expect of any translator of a classic. Having put so much effort in, wouldn't the reasonable person also laud himself, and detract from his fore-bearers? Putnam's translation seems to me, who also speaks Spanish to be the clearest. Putnam is quick to note the derivations and mis-translations from earlier translations. Far from being a literal word for word translation, Putnam clearly put in the research and thought to produce what seems to be a compromise between keeping the grammatical structures from the Castillian Spanish of the late 1500's and early 1600's and making it readable for readers of modern English. (Keeping in mind that for the most part, Castillian Spanish today is almost the same as it was at the time of Cervantes, meaning that the modern Spaniard would have little difficulty understanding the language and the references, English by comparison has undergone a relative transformation from Middle English (Chaucer) through Shakespeare, to today). The one thing however, that all English translations will by a matter of course leave out, is the word play, which by its very definition, only works in Spanish. Putnam however, makes a note of each occurrence.

So the translation is good. Will you understand it in its entirety without research? No. Besides the copious notes that Putnam leaves for the modern English reader, you will need to consult other sources for background, especially in the classic works of antiquity. For example, do you honestly, right at this moment know who "The Nine Worthies" are? How about Amadis of Gaul? Are you familiar with how the internal machinery of a Fulling Mill operates? The finer points of Medieval heraldry? Who Bucephalus was? What a poultice is used for? These are but a sampling of the archaic references that eluded me. You may be able to glean something from context, but had you grown up in Europe in the mid-1500's, all of these things would be common knowledge.

Don't let that fact scare you off, however, as I found the research fun. On the other hand as well, you will find that there are a multitude of turns of phrase, and proverbs that you will immediately recognize.

Now to the physical properties of the book. The copy that I received was green, when the product photo showed it in red. My copy also came with a dust jacket, also green. The type is small. This was the standard for books condensed as this one is (it contains both Part 1 and Part 2) and was clearly mean for students. If the type was of regular size, this book would easily top 1600-1700 pages, or be three feet tall. If you need reading glasses, I would say that would be the one reason to pick another edition. The type isn't super small, and the pages are not translucent, like more modern condensed classics are, or bibles.

Well worth the price, and as an interesting side note, it sold for $3.95 in 1949, meaning that it would cost you roughly $39.50 new today.
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on September 27, 2016
The best novel (and the 1st ever written). This edition (in Spanish) commemorative of the 400 years of the first printing of Don Quijote, is notable because the comments and footnotes have been made in such a way that the reader is not distracted from the book's passage being read. The footnotes become exceptionally fluid because they "blend" into Cervantes' text. This edition was prepared and supervised by the RAE and by two of the foremost Cervantists: Martin de Riquer and Francisco Rico. The articles and included in this edition are masterpieces, including one by Mario Vargas Llosa.
As happens every time you read and reread this book, the surprises abound and the reader finds new language jewels in the most unexpected places.
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