Don Quixote

Introduction by A. J. Close

Introduction by A. J. Close
Translated by P. A. Motteux
Look inside
Hardcover
$32.00 US
On sale Oct 15, 1991 | 1112 Pages | 978-0-679-40758-4

Our ceaseless human quest for something larger than ourselves has never been represented with more insight and love than in this story of Don Quixote–pursuing his vision of glory in a mercantile age–and his shrewd, skeptical manservant, Sancho Panza. As they set out to right the world’s wrongs in knightly combat, the narrative moves from philosophical speculation to broad comedy, taking in pastoral, farce, and fantasy on the way. The first and still the greatest of all European novels, Don Quixote has been as important for the modern world as the poems of Homer were for the ancients.

Translated by P. A. Motteux

The Life of Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was at once the glory and reproach of Spain; for, if his admirable genius and heroic spirit conduced to the honour of his country, the distress and obscurity which attended his old age, as effectually redounded to her disgrace. Had he lived amidst Gothic darkness and barbarity, where no records were used, and letters altogether unknown, we might have expected to derive from tradition, a number of particulars relating to the family and fortune of a man so remarkably admired even in his own time. But, one would imagine pains had been taken to throw a veil of oblivion over the personal concerns of this excellent author. No inquiry hath, as yet, been able to ascertain the place of his nativity;1 and, although in his works he has declared himself a gentleman by birth, no house has hitherto laid claim to such an illustrious descendant.

One author* says he was born at Esquivias; but, offers no argument in support of his assertion: and probably the conjecture was founded upon the encomiums which Cervantes himself bestows on that place, to which he gives the epithet of Renowned, in his preface to Persiles and Sigismunda.2 Others affirm he first drew breath in Lucena, grounding their opinion upon a vague tradition which there prevails: and a third* set take it for granted that he was a native of Seville, because there are families in that city known by the names of Cervantes and Saavedra; and our author mentions his having, in his early youth, seen plays acted by Lope Rueda, who was a Sevilian. These, indeed, are presumptions that deserve some regard, tho', far from implying certain information, they scarce even amount to probable conjecture: nay, these very circumstances seem to disprove the supposition; for, had he been actually descended from those families, they would, in all likelihood, have preserved some memorials of his birth, which Don Nicholas Antonio would have recorded, in speaking of his fellow-citizen. All these pretensions are now generally set aside in favour of Madrid, which claims the honour of having produced Cervantes, and builds her title on an expression? in his Voyage to Parnassus, which, in my opinion, is altogether equivocal and inconclusive.

In the midst of such undecided contention, if I may be allowed to hazard a conjecture, I would suppose that there was something mysterious in his extraction, which he had no inclination to explain, and that his family had domestic reasons for maintaining the like reserve. Without admitting some such motive, we can hardly account for his silence on a subject that would have afforded him an opportunity to indulge that self-respect which he so honestly displays in the course of his writings. Unless we conclude that he was instigated to renounce all connexion with his kindred and allies, by some contempt'ous flight, mortifying repulse, or real injury he had sustained; a supposition which, I own, is not at all improbable, considering the jealous sensibility of the Spaniards in general, and the warmth of resentment peculiar to our author, which glows through his productions, unrestrained by all the fears of poverty, and all the maxims of old age and experience.

Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616) was born to a poor family in the town of Alcalá de Henares in Spain. After being educated in Madrid (where he was his schoolmaster's 'most beloved pupil') he went to Italy where it was not long before he volunteered for the army. Cervantes took part in the great naval battle of Lepanto (1571), when the Christian powers led by the Venetians defeated the Turks in the eastern Mediterranean. As a result he was wounded in the left hand which rendered it useless and earned him the title 'El Manco de Lepanto'. In 1575, while returning to Spain from another military expedition, he was captured by pirates and taken to Algiers as a prisoner. His captivity lasted for five long years during which he made repeated efforts to escape, firmly believing that 'one should risk one's life for honour and liberty'. When Cervantes was finally ransomed he returned to Spain, not to a hero's welcome as he expected, but to find himself with no money and apparently no future. He turned to writing for his livelihood, drawing on his experiences in prison and as a soldier for his stories and plays. His early works brought neither wealth nor fame but when the first part of Don Quixote was published in 1605 it proved to be an instant success. Translated into English in 1612 it has been one of the world's most popular and influential books ever since. Even with this, however, and the second part which was published in 1614, Cervantes did not become a rich man, but he did obtain for himself a patron and was thereafter able to devote himself fully to his writings.

______

Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616) nació en el seno de una familia pobre en el pueblo de Alcalá de Henares, en España. Tras ser educado en Madrid (donde fue el pupilo preferido de su profesor) partió a Italia, donde pronto se enlistó de manera voluntaria en la armada. Cervantes participó en la gran batalla naval de Lepanto (1571), cuando los Cristianos lidereados por los venecianos derrotaron a los turcos al este del Mediterráneo. Esta batalla le dejó una mano herida que nunca recuperó total movilidad, por lo que Cervantes obtuvo el mote de 'El Manco de Lepanto'. En 1575, al volver a España tras otra expedición militar, fue capturado por piratas y llevado a Algeria como prisionero. Permaneció en cautiverio durante cinco largos años, tiempo en el que intentó escapar varias veces con la ferviente creencia de que "uno debiera arriesgar la vida por el honor y la libertad". Cuando finalmente fue rescatado, Cervantes volvió a España no como para ser recibido como hèroe, sino a enfrentarse a una vida sin dinero y, aparentemente, sin futuro. Se volcó a la escritura para poder sobrevivir, convirtiendo sus experiencias en el ejército y prisión en relatos y obras de teatro. Sus primeras obras no le trajeron fama ni fortuna, pero cuando la primera parte de Don Quijote fue publicada en 1605, obtuvo un éxito inmediato. Traducida al inglés en 1612, el Quijote ha sido uno de los libros más populares e icnónicos en el mundo. A pesar del èxito, y de la publicación de la segunda parte de la novela en 1614, Cervantes no se convirtió en un hombre rico, pero sí logró conseguir un mecenas que le permitó dedicar su vida a la escritura.

View titles by Miguel de Cervantes

About

Our ceaseless human quest for something larger than ourselves has never been represented with more insight and love than in this story of Don Quixote–pursuing his vision of glory in a mercantile age–and his shrewd, skeptical manservant, Sancho Panza. As they set out to right the world’s wrongs in knightly combat, the narrative moves from philosophical speculation to broad comedy, taking in pastoral, farce, and fantasy on the way. The first and still the greatest of all European novels, Don Quixote has been as important for the modern world as the poems of Homer were for the ancients.

Translated by P. A. Motteux

Excerpt

The Life of Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was at once the glory and reproach of Spain; for, if his admirable genius and heroic spirit conduced to the honour of his country, the distress and obscurity which attended his old age, as effectually redounded to her disgrace. Had he lived amidst Gothic darkness and barbarity, where no records were used, and letters altogether unknown, we might have expected to derive from tradition, a number of particulars relating to the family and fortune of a man so remarkably admired even in his own time. But, one would imagine pains had been taken to throw a veil of oblivion over the personal concerns of this excellent author. No inquiry hath, as yet, been able to ascertain the place of his nativity;1 and, although in his works he has declared himself a gentleman by birth, no house has hitherto laid claim to such an illustrious descendant.

One author* says he was born at Esquivias; but, offers no argument in support of his assertion: and probably the conjecture was founded upon the encomiums which Cervantes himself bestows on that place, to which he gives the epithet of Renowned, in his preface to Persiles and Sigismunda.2 Others affirm he first drew breath in Lucena, grounding their opinion upon a vague tradition which there prevails: and a third* set take it for granted that he was a native of Seville, because there are families in that city known by the names of Cervantes and Saavedra; and our author mentions his having, in his early youth, seen plays acted by Lope Rueda, who was a Sevilian. These, indeed, are presumptions that deserve some regard, tho', far from implying certain information, they scarce even amount to probable conjecture: nay, these very circumstances seem to disprove the supposition; for, had he been actually descended from those families, they would, in all likelihood, have preserved some memorials of his birth, which Don Nicholas Antonio would have recorded, in speaking of his fellow-citizen. All these pretensions are now generally set aside in favour of Madrid, which claims the honour of having produced Cervantes, and builds her title on an expression? in his Voyage to Parnassus, which, in my opinion, is altogether equivocal and inconclusive.

In the midst of such undecided contention, if I may be allowed to hazard a conjecture, I would suppose that there was something mysterious in his extraction, which he had no inclination to explain, and that his family had domestic reasons for maintaining the like reserve. Without admitting some such motive, we can hardly account for his silence on a subject that would have afforded him an opportunity to indulge that self-respect which he so honestly displays in the course of his writings. Unless we conclude that he was instigated to renounce all connexion with his kindred and allies, by some contempt'ous flight, mortifying repulse, or real injury he had sustained; a supposition which, I own, is not at all improbable, considering the jealous sensibility of the Spaniards in general, and the warmth of resentment peculiar to our author, which glows through his productions, unrestrained by all the fears of poverty, and all the maxims of old age and experience.

Author

Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616) was born to a poor family in the town of Alcalá de Henares in Spain. After being educated in Madrid (where he was his schoolmaster's 'most beloved pupil') he went to Italy where it was not long before he volunteered for the army. Cervantes took part in the great naval battle of Lepanto (1571), when the Christian powers led by the Venetians defeated the Turks in the eastern Mediterranean. As a result he was wounded in the left hand which rendered it useless and earned him the title 'El Manco de Lepanto'. In 1575, while returning to Spain from another military expedition, he was captured by pirates and taken to Algiers as a prisoner. His captivity lasted for five long years during which he made repeated efforts to escape, firmly believing that 'one should risk one's life for honour and liberty'. When Cervantes was finally ransomed he returned to Spain, not to a hero's welcome as he expected, but to find himself with no money and apparently no future. He turned to writing for his livelihood, drawing on his experiences in prison and as a soldier for his stories and plays. His early works brought neither wealth nor fame but when the first part of Don Quixote was published in 1605 it proved to be an instant success. Translated into English in 1612 it has been one of the world's most popular and influential books ever since. Even with this, however, and the second part which was published in 1614, Cervantes did not become a rich man, but he did obtain for himself a patron and was thereafter able to devote himself fully to his writings.

______

Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616) nació en el seno de una familia pobre en el pueblo de Alcalá de Henares, en España. Tras ser educado en Madrid (donde fue el pupilo preferido de su profesor) partió a Italia, donde pronto se enlistó de manera voluntaria en la armada. Cervantes participó en la gran batalla naval de Lepanto (1571), cuando los Cristianos lidereados por los venecianos derrotaron a los turcos al este del Mediterráneo. Esta batalla le dejó una mano herida que nunca recuperó total movilidad, por lo que Cervantes obtuvo el mote de 'El Manco de Lepanto'. En 1575, al volver a España tras otra expedición militar, fue capturado por piratas y llevado a Algeria como prisionero. Permaneció en cautiverio durante cinco largos años, tiempo en el que intentó escapar varias veces con la ferviente creencia de que "uno debiera arriesgar la vida por el honor y la libertad". Cuando finalmente fue rescatado, Cervantes volvió a España no como para ser recibido como hèroe, sino a enfrentarse a una vida sin dinero y, aparentemente, sin futuro. Se volcó a la escritura para poder sobrevivir, convirtiendo sus experiencias en el ejército y prisión en relatos y obras de teatro. Sus primeras obras no le trajeron fama ni fortuna, pero cuando la primera parte de Don Quijote fue publicada en 1605, obtuvo un éxito inmediato. Traducida al inglés en 1612, el Quijote ha sido uno de los libros más populares e icnónicos en el mundo. A pesar del èxito, y de la publicación de la segunda parte de la novela en 1614, Cervantes no se convirtió en un hombre rico, pero sí logró conseguir un mecenas que le permitó dedicar su vida a la escritura.

View titles by Miguel de Cervantes

Books for Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Every May we celebrate the rich history and culture of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Browse a curated selection of fiction and nonfiction books by AANHPI creators that we think your students will love. Find our full collection of titles for Higher Education here.

Read more