Don Quixote de la Mancha

By Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra; E. C. Riley et al. | Go to book overview

NOTE ON THE TEXT

TRANSLATIONS, naturally, have played an indispensable part in the diffusion of Don Quixote. The first complete one in any language was Thomas Shelton's version of Part One in English, which appeared in 1612; Part Two followed in 1620. The first of the great English translations of the eighteenth century was Peter Motteux's of 1700-3, which was followed by that of Charles Jarvis ( 1742) and that of Tobias Smollett ( 1755), which owed a lot to Jarvis.

Charles Jarvis (sometimes spelt Jervas, 1675-1739) was a fashionable painter of the day, whose well-known portrait of Swift hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. He was a friend of Alexander Pope, who refers to him kindly several times in surviving writings. There were a few persons, less kind, who cast doubt on Jarvis's command of Spanish, but the slur has no justification. More than most, his translation is sensitive, careful, and full of life. It is closer in spirit and style to the original than are most more recent versions. In a letter to Swift, dated 14 December 1725, Pope speaks of the work as finished. Whether or not that is exact, the translation was first published, posthumously, in 1742. It has been deservedly popular and has often been republished since.

The present edition is based on that edited by James FitzmauriceKelly for Oxford University Press (two volumes, 1907). It does not include Cervantes's dedications of Parts One and Two or the prefatory verses to Part One, which are absent from Jarvis's edition. The Introduction, Chronology, and Select Bibliography are entirely new, as are most of the explanatory notes. The text has been updated with modern paragraphing and dialogue markers for the sake of easier reading. The occasional mistranslation or really inadequate rendering -- there are not many, given the size of the novel -- has been amended.

-xvii-

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