Don Quixote has become so entranced reading tales of chivalry that he decides to turn knight errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, these exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote's fancy often leads him astray—he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants—Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together-and together they have haunted readers' imaginations for nearly four hundred years.
With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote has been generally recognized as the first modern novel.
Originally published by Viking, Modern Library reprinted Samuel Putnam's complete 1949 translation, and it has seldom been out of print since its publication. Based on the original Spanish texts and including variant readings, notes, and a translator's introduction, this is Putnam's most famous work, and the first version of Don Quixote in what would today be considered contemporary English; there is still archaic language, but less than in earlier English versions.
The language is formal when spoken by educated characters, but seldom old-fashioned, while the peasant characters speak in colloquial modern English. Putnam worked on the translation for 12 years. He also published a companion volume, The Portable Cervantes, that included an abridged version of his translation, in addition to English versions of two of Cervantes's Novelas ejemplares.
Daniel Eisenberg, comparing translations of Don Quixote, called Putnam's translation the most "sensitive", and by far the best documented.
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