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Free Barron's Booknotes-Don Quixote by Migel de Cervantes-Free Book Notes
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Sandra Dunn, English Teacher Hempstead High School, Hempstead, New York

Lawrence J. Epstein, Associate Professor of English Suffolk County Community College, Selden, New York

Leonard Gardner, Lecturer, English Department State University of New York at Stony Brook

Beverly A. Haley, Member, Advisory Committee National Council of Teachers of English Student Guide Series Fort Morgan, Colorado

Elaine C. Johnson, English Teacher Tamalpais Union High School District Mill Valley, California

Marvin J. LaHood, Professor of English State University of New York College at Buffalo

Robert Lecker, Associate Professor of English McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

David E. Manly, Professor of Educational Studies State University of New York College at Geneseo

Bruce Miller, Associate Professor of Education State University of New York at Buffalo

Frank O'Hare, Professor of English and Director of Writing Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Faith Z. Schullstrom, Member of Executive Committee National Council of Teachers of English Director of Curriculum and Instruction Guilderland Central School District, New York

Mattie C. Williams, Director, Bureau of Language Arts Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois




There have been many English language translations of Don Quixote-the first, by Thomas Shelton, appeared in 1612-20. Two excellent recent translations that convey the texture of Cervantes' style are by J. M. Cohen (available in a Penguin paperback edition) and Walter Starkie (available in a Signet paperback). Another notable recent translation is by Samuel Putnam.

Of the numerous good biographies of Cervantes you might enjoy Cervantes by Melveena McKenrick (Boston: Little Brown, 1980) and Richard Predmore's life, also titled Cervantes (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1973). Most histories of Spanish literature, as well as surveys of world literature, devote chapters to Cervantes. Also, novelists who turn to criticism seem to be attracted to Don Quixote. The list below covers just a few of the better-known critical essays and specialized studies.

Allen, John Jay. Don Quixote: Hero or Fool? Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida Press, 1969.

Brenan, Gerald. The Literature of the Spanish People. London: Cambridge University Press, 1951.

Cervantes: His Life, His Times, His Works. (Created by the editors of Arnoldo Mondadori Editore.) New York: American Heritage Press, 1970. A popular survey, it includes photos of La Mancha and illustrations of seventeenth-century Spanish art.

Chesterton, G.K. A Handful of Authors. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1952. The author blames Cervantes for "killing" chivalry.

Close, Anthony. The Romantic Approach to Don Quixote. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977. A survey of nineteenth-century views of Cervantes.

Duran, Manuel. Cervantes. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1974. Includes a good survey of the various critical views of Don Quixote.

Flores, Angel and M.J. Benardete. Cervantes Across the Centuries. New York, Gordian Press. Essays by Americo Castro, Miguel de Unamuno, and others.

Krutch, Joseph Wood. Five Masters. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1930, 1961.

Nabokov, Vladimir. Lectures on Don Quixote. Edited by Fredson Bowers. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983. Interesting if at times individualistic criticism by a great writer.

Nelson, Lowry, ed. Cervantes: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969.

Northup, George Tyler. An Introduction to Spanish Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1925.

Van Doren, Mark. Don Quixote's Profession. New York: Columbia University Press, 1958. Van Doren suggests that Don Quixote is an actor who adopts madness as part of his role.


In addition to Don Quixote, Cervantes wrote poetry, other novels, novellas, and dozens of plays (many of which have been lost). Major works include

La Galatea, a pastoral romance (1585)
Exemplary Novels, a collection of novellas (1613)
Voyage to Parnassus, a long poem (1614)
Eight Plays and Eight New Interludes (1615)
The Travels of Persiles and Sigismunda, a novel (published posthumously in 1617)

If you want to go beyond Don Quixote, you would probably do best to begin with Walter Starkie's translation of the Exemplary Novels. The translation is called The Deceitful Marriage and Other Exemplary Tales (New York: New American Library, 1963).

The standard edition of Cervantes' complete works in Spanish was compiled by R. Schevill and A. Bonilla y San Martin. The 19 volumes of the Obras completas were published between 1914 and 1941.

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