I was hoping to post on Harold Bloom’s introduction to Don Quixote after I’d had a chance to read it this evening, but I’ve just finished it and I thought it was terrible, so I won’t be posting on it after all. Has anybody else read it, from the Edith Grossman translation? Yes, I’ll admit I’m tired this evening and not at my reading best, but still I couldn’t make much sense out of it and I’m sure I wouldn’t have liked it even if I’d felt more alert. It’s rambling and vague and has rather too much Hamlet in it.
So, instead, I’ll give you a paragraph from Edith Grossman’s “Translator’s Note to the Reader,” which is short but much better than Bloom’s irritation introuction. Describing Cervantes’s writing, she says:
[It] is a marvel: it gives off sparks and flows like honey. Cervantes’s style is so artful it seems absolutely natural and inevitable; his irony is sweet-natured, his sensibility sophisticated, compassionate, and humorous. If my translation works at all, the reader should keep turning the pages, smiling a good deal, periodically bursting into laughter, and impatiently waiting for the next synonym (Cervantes delighted in accumulating synonyms, especially descriptive ones, within the same phrase), the next mind-bending coincidence, the next variation on the structure of Don Quixote’s adventures, the next incomparable conversation between the knight and his squire. To quote again from Cervantes’s prologue: “I do not want to charge you too much for the service I have performed in introducing you to so noble and honorable a knight; but I do want you to thank me for allowing you to make the acquaintance of the famous Sancho Panza, his squire….”
Tomorrow — to the novel itself!