Don Quixote

Product Details
$24.99  $23.24
Ecco Press
Publish Date
5.32 X 8.0 X 1.72 inches | 1.5 pounds

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About the Author

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) was a Spanish novelist, playwright, and poet, best known as the creator of Don Quixote, the most famous figure in Spanish literature. Although Cervantes's reputation rests almost entirely on his portrait of the gaunt country gentleman, his literary production was considerable. Shakespeare, Cervantes's great contemporary, had evidently read Don Quixote, but it is most unlikely that Cervantes had ever heard of Shakespeare. Cervantes lived an unsettled life of hardship and adventure. He was born in Alcala de Henares, a town near Madrid, into a family of the minor nobility in 1547. His father was a doctor, and much of his childhood was spent moving from town to town while his father sought work. After studying in Madrid, he went to Rome in the service of Guilio Acquavita. In 1570, he became a soldier and took part in the sea battle at Lepanto, during which he received a wound that permanently maimed his left hand. Cervantes was extremely proud of his role in the famous victory and of the nickname he earned, el manco de Lepanto. In 1575, Cervantes set out with his brother Rodrigo on the galley El Sol for Spain. The ship was captured by the Turks and the brothers were taken to Algiers as slaves. Cervantes spent five years as a slave until his family could raise enough money to pay his ransom. Cervantes was released in 1580, and after his return to Madrid he held several temporary administrative posts. In 1584, he married Catalina de Salazar y Palacios. During the next twenty years, he led a nomadic existence, also working as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada and as a tax collector. He suffered a bankruptcy and was imprisoned at least twice because of fiscal irregularities. Between the years 1596 and 1600, he lived primarily in Seville. In 1606, Cervantes settled permanently in Madrid, where he remained the rest of his life. He died on April 23, 1616. Cervantes started his literary career in Andalusia in 1580. His first major work was the Galatea, a pastoral romance. It received little contemporary notice, and Cervantes never wrote the continuation for it, which he repeatedly promised. In his play El Trato de Argel, he dealt with the life of Christian slaves in Algiers. Aside from his plays, his most ambitious work in verse was Viaje del Parnaso, an allegory consisting largely of rather tedious though good-natured reviews of contemporary poets. Cervantes himself realized that he was deficient in poetic gifts. Later generations have considered him one of the world's worst poets. Tradition maintains that Cervantes wrote Don Quixote in prison at Argamasilla in La Mancha. Cervantes's idea was to give a picture of real life and manners and to express himself in clear language. The intrusion of everyday speech into a literary context was acclaimed by the reading public. The author stayed poor until 1605, when the first part of Don Quixote appeared. Although it did not make Cervantes rich, it brought him international appreciation.

Edith Grossman is the award-winning translator of major works by many of Latin America's most important writers. Born in Philadelphia, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Berkeley before receiving her PhD from New York University. She lives in New York City.


"Grossman has given us an honest, robust and freshly revelatory Quixote for our times" -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A major literary achievement." -- New York Times Book Review

"Ms. Grossman...has provided a Quixote that is agile, playful, formal and wry.... What she renders splendidly is the book's very heart." -- New York Times

"It is thrilling to add Grossman's to the bookshelf of Don Quixote possibilities. Her rendition confirms that Cervantes' imperfect masterpiece is as much at home in Shakespeare's tongue as it is in Spanish." -- Los Angeles Times

"This new translation relates the story of the man of La Mancha and his vivid imagination in a way that is more in tune with a 21st-century reader." -- Los Angeles Daily News

"Marvelous new translation." -- The New Yorker

"The Grossman translation blows the dust off Cervantes, leaving his light-footed prose and his sly, gentle mockeries." -- Dallas Morning News

"[Edith Grossman's] rendering of Cervantes' prose conveys all of its complex subtleties in a fresh and attractive style that is neither overly traditional nor colloquial." -- San Diego Union-Tribune

"This new version of Don Quixote is thoroughly modern...the words are familiar, the humor's intact." -- Austin American-Statesman