In This Article Don Quixote in English

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Anthologies on the Reception of Don Quixote in the English-Speaking World
  • 20th-Century English Literature

Latino Studies Don Quixote in English
by
William Childers
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 July 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0111

Introduction

Asked whether Don Quixote could become a bridge between North and South America, Jorge Luis Borges replied, “Yes, I think it would be a splendid idea. It has been a bridge between Spain and South America also. Because we think of Don Quixote as if we had written it” (Borges 1997, cited under Scholarly Tradition: Latin American and US Latino). Indeed, Cervantes’s novel is the acknowledged classic uniting the entire Spanish-speaking world. At the same time (though this is less widely understood), its impact on Anglo-American literature is unparalleled by any other foreign-language work. No serious writer in English since the 17th century has been free of its influence, and such major figures of the United States as Melville, Twain, and Faulkner have been enthusiastic readers. Cervantes’s masterpiece is thus uniquely situated to bridge the cultural traditions converging in the Latino experience. Moreover, Don Quixote has also left its impression on the literatures of immigrant communities that contributed significantly to US identity over the last two centuries, most notably those expressed in Yiddish and Russian. This pervasive presence is a testament to the place of the Hispanic element within the culturally heterogeneous Western Hemisphere, including those areas where English remains the predominant language. As the Latino element of North American identity comes to the fore, the relevance of the book for negotiating cultural understanding within and across ethnicities only grows stronger. Given its role as an established classic of world literature, integrating this work as part of Latino identity strengthens the prestige of a family of cultures all too often associated in the Anglophone media with the most negative effects of modernity: poverty, poor education, marginality. Always keeping in mind the particular relevance of this topic to Latino studies, this article surveys translations of Don Quixote into English and scholarship on its reception in England and the United States, at the same time as it provides a roadmap of the principal examples of that reception in fiction and essays, with some reference to stage and screen adaptations as well. Given the Latino studies focus, the British reception of the work is treated in a somewhat more cursory fashion, emphasizing the most historically important examples in order to allow a more expansive handling of the reading and recycling of Don Quixote in America.

General Overviews

Although the focus here is on Don Quixote in England and the United States, a brief selection from the vast secondary literature can serve as a general introduction. Two recent anthologies, Bloom 2010 and González Echevarría 2005, provide entry points to the study of Cervantes for students; scholars may prefer to begin with the more erudite Cascardi 2002. Cervantes Project: Texas A&M University organizes vast resources. The Cervantes Virtual portal is more select and entirely in Spanish. The journal Cervantes is a varied, up-to-date resource. Dopico-Black and Layna Ranz 2009 offers a “who’s who” of Cervantists currently active in the United States.

  • Bloom, Harold, ed. Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote. New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2010.

    E-mail Citation »

    New edition of Bloom’s volume on Don Quixote. Reasonably good selection of criticism by established specialists, plus an essay by Mario Vargas Llosa.

  • Cascardi, Anthony, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Cervantes. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521663210E-mail Citation »

    Useful introductory guide to Cervantes, with important contributions commissioned from major scholars.

  • Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America.

    E-mail Citation »

    Posts all back issues from 1981 to 2011. Includes scholarly articles, reviews, and other materials for the study of Cervantes and his reception.

  • Cervantes Project: Texas A&M University.

    E-mail Citation »

    Begun in 1995 by Eduardo Urbina. Houses one of the great digital humanities projects of our time. Cervantes’s texts, his life, bibliographies of secondary sources, a searchable database of illustrations to hundreds of editions, and much more.

  • Cervantes Virtual.

    E-mail Citation »

    The Cervantes portal of the largest online library in Spanish, Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes. A valuable resource in Spanish.

  • Dopico-Black, Georgina, and Francisco Layna Ranz, eds. USA Cervantes. 39 Cervantistas en Estados Unidos. Madrid: CSIC and Polifemo, 2009.

    E-mail Citation »

    An unusual volume, showcasing studies by thirty-nine scholars on Cervantes currently active in the United States. Includes autobiographical texts by contributors, discussing their individual trajectories as Cervantists.

  • González Echevarría, Roberto, ed. Cervantes’ Don Quixote: A Casebook. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

    E-mail Citation »

    A selection consisting primarily of older, classic studies.

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