Quixote: The Novel and the World

Ilan Stavans. Norton, $26.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-393-08302-6
Tracing four centuries of influence of what hispanophones affectionately call “el Quijote,” Stavans (A Most Imperfect Union) takes an entertainingly idiosyncratic look at Don Quijote, the “novel of novels.” Offering more cultural history than literary criticism, Stavans begins with the novel as a product both of a man and an age. He progressively broadens his scope to examine the wildly varied interpretations of it, including a “cornerstone of Western civilization,” a foundation of Spanish nationhood, and the novel that “begat modernity.” Stavans’s work has the tone of a conversational lecture, with room for occasional digressions and jokes, but all the confident precision and clarity of a scholar working with material he knows and loves. Though an admirer, Stavans is no purist (or “Cervantisto”); he appreciates the variations wrought by numerous translations, including his own rendition of one passage into Spanglish, as much as the evolving applications of Quijote as adjective (quixotic), ideology (quijotismo), and Japanese retail chain (Donki). In the process, he defines the nature of this literary classic and shows the many ways in which Don Quijote has “unquestionably shaped our culture,” not just of Spain but of the Americas. A combination of celebration, meditation, and quest, Stavans’s book is bound to please el Quijote’s devoted readers and win new fans. Illus. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 05/04/2015
Release date: 09/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-393-35342-6
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-393-24838-8
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