Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: Don Quixote

I had John Ormsby’s translation, which was good, because the first part of his Preface, in which he comments on the book’s previous English translations, was well worth reading. It confirmed my opinion that one should only read a translation when one doesn’t know the original’s language: if you read a translation, you may or may not read something as good as the original, but you almost certainly won’t read the same thing.

But despite Ormsby’s admiration for the novel and its humour, I laid it aside before I was one fifth through. It’s not all bad (the parodic “the reason of the unreason with which my reason is afflicted so weakens my reason that with reason I murmur at your beauty” is brilliant), but generally it goes along the lines “Don Quixote and Sancho Panza go someplace, Don Quixote falls under the spell of some delusion and, ha ha, somebody gives them a thrashing”. It’s too … oafish for my taste. In fact the last straw was the passage in which, ha ha, Don Quixote spews into Sancho’s beard.

 

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