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Shakespeare & Beyond

The Wonder of Will, the Marvel of Miguel: 400 years of Shakespeare and Cervantes

This year we remember the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. But 1616 also saw the passing of another great writer: Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra, who we know best as the author of Don Quijote.

As Shakespeare left an indelible mark on the English language, Spanish has been referred to as “la lengua de Cervantes,” the language of Cervantes. This is due not just to the inventiveness of Cervantes’ writing, but also to its orality. To read Don Quijote is to engage deeply with the act of storytelling in many forms, from chivalric romance, folktales, and satire, to the pastoral and the picaresque. One of the great pleasures of Don Quijote comes from encountering the distinctive speech patterns of diverse segments of Spanish society. Almost any given character becomes a storyteller, through writing or reciting, dialogue, monologue, or digression.


This post has inspired me to read Don Quijote. Can you recommend an edition? Is there an audiobook that does justice to the story?

Deborah J. Leslie — February 8, 2016

The English translation of Don Quixote considered the best at the moment is Edith Grossman’s. You can find it easily online. Cohen’s translation in the Penguin edition is also quite good, as is John Rutherford’s. I would go with Grossman, though, I think.

Aaron Kahn — March 9, 2016

Thank you Dr. Swanton, this is a very nice abstract which highlights the two greatest authors of their age.

Daniel — February 10, 2016