Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Don Quixote (Edith Grossman translation)

I have attempted to read Don Quixote on three separate occasions, previous to this one, and each has been an exercise in tedium. I have always loved the story of Don Quixote and have hoped to enjoy Cervantes' book, but have always bogged down in my attempts to read it.

That is, until this time. This time it moves like the grand adventure I knew it could be. The experience has been so inexplicably different, that I was sure it couldn't be chalked up to "4th times the charm".

Fortunately for me, there is a section at the back of this edition that compares translations of varying sections. And I made the startling discovery that this edition hoped I would make, that being, what a difference a good translation makes.

Much as I know better, some part of me still imagined that all translations are, in essence, created equal. Edith Grossman's take on Cervantes has changed that line of thinking forever. I will never take a translation lightly again.

So, if you've ever found the Russians unbearable or wondered how people can stand to read Les Miserables (I've been fortunate in my choice of translation in all these cases), perhaps you should try a better translation. I know that I am glad I did.

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