|Dimensions||14 × 20 × 4 cm|
Brown grained cloth with gilt lettering on the spine. Embossed ship on front cover.
The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha or just Don Quixote. It was originally published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615. A founding work of Western literature, it is often labeled as the first modern novel and is considered one of the greatest works ever written. Don Quixote also holds the distinction of being one of the most-translated books in the world.
The plot revolves around the adventures of a noble (hidalgo) from La Mancha named Alonso Quixano, who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his mind and decides to become a knight-errant (caballero andante) to revive chivalry and serve his nation, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthy wit in dealing with Don Quixote’s rhetorical monologues on knighthood, already considered old-fashioned at the time. Don Quixote, in the first part of the book, does not see the world for what it is and prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story.
The book had a major influence on the literary community, as evidenced by direct references in Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers (1844), Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), and Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac (1897), as well as the word quixotic and the epithet Lothario; the latter refers to a character in “El curioso impertinente” (“The Impertinently Curious Man”), an intercalated story that appears in Part One, chapters 33–35
When first published, Don Quixote was usually interpreted as a comic novel. After the French Revolution, it was better known for its central ethic that individuals can be right while society is quite wrong and seen as disenchanting. In the 19th century, it was seen as a social commentary, but no one could easily tell “whose side Cervantes was on”. Many critics came to view the work as a tragedy in which Don Quixote’s idealism and nobility are viewed by the post-chivalric world as insane, and are defeated and rendered useless by common reality. By the 20th century, the novel had come to occupy a canonical space as one of the foundations of modern literature.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra; 29 September 1547 (assumed) – 22 April 1616 was a Spanish writer widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world’s pre-eminent novelists. He is best known for his novel Don Quixote, a work often cited as both the first modern novel and one of the pinnacles of world literature.
No authenticated image of Cervantes exists. He wanted a now-lost portrait by Juan de Jáuregui used as a frontispiece of his Exemplary Novels. Since the publisher would not pay for the engraving this would require, Cervantes supplied in its place a description of himself:
This person whom you see here, with an oval visage, chestnut hair, smooth open forehead, lively eyes, a hooked but well-proportioned nose, and silvery beard that twenty years ago was golden, large moustache, small mouth, teeth not much to speak of, for he has only six, in bad condition and worse placed, no two of them corresponding to each other, a figure midway between the two extremes, neither tall nor short, a vivid complexion, rather fair than dark, somewhat stooped in the shoulders, and not very lightfooted.
Much of his life was spent in poverty and obscurity, while the bulk of his surviving work was produced in the three years preceding his death, when he was supported by the Count of Lemos and did not have to work. Despite this, his influence and literary contribution are reflected by the fact that Spanish is often referred to as “the language of Cervantes”.
In 1569, Cervantes was forced to leave Spain and moved to Rome, where he worked in the household of a cardinal. In 1570, he enlisted in a Spanish Navy infantry regiment, and was badly wounded at the Battle of Lepanto in October 1571. He served as a soldier until 1575, when he was captured by Barbary pirates; after five years in captivity, he was ransomed, and returned to Madrid.
His first significant novel, titled La Galatea, was published in 1585, but he continued to work as a purchasing agent, then later a government tax collector. Part One of Don Quixote was published in 1605, Part Two in 1615. Other works include the 12 Novelas ejemplares (Exemplary Novels); a long poem, the Viaje del Parnaso (Journey to Parnassus); and Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses (Eight Plays and Eight Entr’actes). Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda (The Travails of Persiles and Sigismunda), was published posthumously in 1616.
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