More Thoughts on New Quixote

So based on the comments and emails I’m getting in response to my befuddled post about the new Quixote translation, seems that I’m far from the only one to greet this book with a big “whaaaa . . . ?”

Not that every book on Earth is going to get a marketing campaign worthy of Jonathan Franzen–and Lord knows a Signet Classic is going to get less marketing than most–but it’s still a little strange how this book has basically been dumped out there like so many week-old fish. It reminds me of not too long ago when a monument of 20th century literature was published in a really impressive new translation and was essentially ignored by its own publisher.

I’m sure these things happen with non-translations all the time, but it does seem that the translations get a disproportionate share of the publicity shaft.



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Was that a reference to Breon Mitchell’s 50th anniversary translation of The Tin Drum?

A little googling of the Lathrop translation shows that it came out in 2008 from “Cervantes & Co.” in Newark, Delaware; Lathrop is an emeritus scholar of Foreign Languages and a Cervantes expert at the University of Delaware. I’ll note two reviews of the translation, one at http://www.h-net.org/~cervantes/csa/artics08/McGraths08.pdf; the other (a review of several translations of Quixote) at http://www.h-net.org/~cervantes/csa/artics-f06/eisenbergsf06.pdff06. /eisenbergsf06.pdf. Both are published in Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America. The latter mentions a long debate between the reviewer and Lathrop over Lathrop’s attributing what the reviewer feels to be errors in the text of Quixote to Cervantes’ intentions, as elaborated in the numerous footnotes. This second review also refers to Grossman as “the most textually ignorant of modern translators.” Why Signet would pick up this scholarly/academic translation published by a small press devoted to Cervantes studies and mass market it with no publicity remains a mystery.

Here is the first part of Lathrop’s review of Edith Grossman’s translation of Don Quixote:

“The spectacular success of Edith Grossman’s translation is the best thing that has ever happened to Cervantes in this country. It was published on October 21, 2003, and two months later, on Christmas Eve, 2003, it rose to be the ninth-best-selling book at
Amazon.com. What this means is that thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of people, have experienced reading this book in recent months, a great boon to cervantistas’ (or at least my) desire to see a Quijote on everyone’s
bookshelf. Our collective hats should collectively be tipped in the direction of New York’s Upper West Side to congratulate Edith Grossman on her achievement. This is a trade book destined for the general reader, and in this role Grossman’s text is ideal—you read it, you get the story, you get lots of footnotes—in an altogether readable format.”
http://www.h-net.org/~cervantes/csa/artics-f06/lathrop2sf06.pdf

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