• LibraryThing
  • Book discussions
  • Your LibraryThing
  • Join to start using.

Best translation of Don Quixote?

In Translation

Join LibraryThing to post.

Aug 29, 2006, 11:47pm Top

Can anyone recommend the best translation of Don Quixote in English? Preferably with its strengths? I own the Burton Raffel translation, and know of those by Tobias Smollett, J. M. Cohen, Samuel Putnam, and Edith Grossman, all of which sound excellent. It's simply too long a list. :)

I'd love to hear your suggestions.

2callmebalthazar First Message
Sep 5, 2006, 10:10am Top

I've read both the Tobias Smollett and Edith Grossman translations. Out of those two I would recommend the Edith Grossman version. Smollett's translation isn't bad, but it's more archaic and less elegant than Grossman's. A great book either way (the greatest, perhaps), but I think Grossman captures Cervantes most wonderfully.

Sep 5, 2006, 5:15pm Top

Ah, good. I'm glad to hear it.

Jan 7, 2008, 3:56pm Top

I've said this before on some other forum - the only way to know whether you'll like a translation is to actually browse/partly read it and compare it to others that you've browsed/partly read. Readability is often more important than accuracy because if you don't like what you're reading, its accuracy doesn't matter much. And to throw another name into the mix, John Rutherford's recent Penguin translation (I haven't read it however) has been highly acclaimed and, I think, received an award.

Aug 4, 2008, 5:12pm Top

To agree with the name Existanai contributed, I recently read and really enjoyed John Rutherford's translation. It was marvellous fun.

Jun 14, 2010, 5:53am Top

The following article has some interesting information on the various translations of Don Quixote.


Jun 14, 2010, 6:26am Top

Not long ago I heard an interview with Edith Grossman about her new translation. I think it's available at: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bookshow/stories/2010/2859837.htm

Sep 7, 2013, 8:39pm Top

Translations are a Godsend but they can be a real obstacle to enjoyment and true understanding of a work when they are done badly. I am fortunate to have the ability to read Spanish fairly well, although I don't speak or even write with the same proficiency. I have always wanted to read Don Quijote, because of its acclaim and because I love Spanish literature. The length especially intimidated me, and also the fact that it was written so long ago. I decided after reading and enjoying some other formidable classics, such as Little Dorrit, I would give Don Quijote a try. Not only am I reading it in English translation, I am reading it first in the original Spanish, which is quite a challenge. I am fluent enough to do it, with very little help. I read one chapter in Spanish, and follow it in English, not the reverse. I want to understand it in Spanish before reading someone else's interpretation. I find Ormsby to be a fairly accurate translator, but there are times that I feel he missed the mark. I also feel that when there is a choice of English words that would correspond to the Spanish, he seems to always choose the driest and dullest equivalents. I now have the Smollet translation which I will evaluate, but I want to have a look at Edith Grossman's version. I will try and give an update when I have a chance to read them. I am still in the process of reading the original.

Sep 8, 2013, 6:15am Top

Conversely, in some cases the translation improves on the original...

Jul 2, 2016, 10:39am Top

>8 scornell1: I would love to know what more you've found, learned or thought about the various English translations that are available. I gather Smollett, Rutherford, Ormsby, Putnam and Grossman are the primary versions currently in circulation. Thanks!

Group: In Translation

115 members

300 messages


This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.

You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,157,312 books! | Top bar: Always visible