Don Quixote Paperback – April 24, 2017
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- Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 24, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 114 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1545567638
- ISBN-13 : 978-1545567630
- Item Weight : 5.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.26 x 9 inches
Best Sellers Rank:
#1,023,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #26,083 in Classic Literature & Fiction
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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.
If you want a good edition of Don Quijote then purchase the Norton Critical Edition UPC 9780393972818 ISBN 0-393-97281-X
By Cbots on September 24, 2017
There seems to be some debate about which translation this edition is based on, so I'll mention this: the preface of the book was authored by John Ormsby. To me, that indicates that this edition is made from Ormsby's translation. Speaking of the preface, that introduction itself, when compared to the work it precedes, offers arguably the single greatest example of the evolution of modern formatting I have ever seen. In fact, if “Don Quixote” had been formatted in the same fashion as the preface, I could easily see giving this edition 4 out of 5 stars. Now, on to the novel.
When it was good, “Don Quixote” has some of the best writing I've ever read. Period. This story deserves to be called a classic any way you cut it. When the story is in play, the brilliance of the book is peerless. Alas, I spent too much time asking myself one of two questions: "Why am I reading this?" or "Why isn't this a new sentence/paragraph/line of dialogue?"
Overall, I enjoyed the adventures of the Knight of the Lions, who had been called the Knight of the Rueful Countenance, Don Quixote of La Mancha and his squire, Sancho Panza. Reading "Don Quixote" was ultimately an enriching experience. The novel makes some poignant statements about life, the dreams we have, our place in the world, the lies we tell ourselves and why we value the things we do. I suspect it will take me a long time to unpack those messages, if I do so at all. Should I succeed in said unpacking, I hope that the meaning I find will remain with me for even longer. To summarize: I would have enjoyed this incredibly enriching experience even more if reading the book felt less like a chore.
A few examples of some dynamite prose:
"I count as for a hundred [.]"
"...and other points which, though I cannot now call them to mind, I here grant as expressed..."
"[T]here is a great difference between what is done out of love and what is done out of gratitude."
"[M]oreover I have heard say that beauty is the first and main thing that excites love, and as your worship has none at all, I don't know what the poor creature fell in love with."
"To fancy that in this life anything belonging to it will remain for ever in the same state is an idle fancy[.]"
"...remember that one who loves so well should not revenge herself so cruelly."
Another example of splendid prose... that also amply demonstrates how brevity was at times the enemy of the author. Yes, it's all one sentence and yes, this was a common occurrence:
"[M]y father not being at home I was able to adopt this costume you see, and urging my horse to speed I overtook Don Vicente about a league from this, and without waiting to utter reproaches or hear excuses I fired this musket at him, and these two pistols besides, and to the best of my belief I must have lodged more than two bullets in his body, opening doors to let my honour go free, enveloped in his blood."
Edit: clarity. Yikes.
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Nevertheless, the translation stands up well for its time. For a really excellent text, though, I'd choose Edith Grossman's translation, so fluid and lucid, it's a joy to read.
The "other view" is what stayed with me and the understanding that there are more ways of looking at things that the perceived wisdom is very important i think.
I have just downloaded it for my Kindle and am looking forward to rereading it again; it has been a while.