Posts tagged ‘Don Quixote’

April 4, 2011

Don Quixote on the Farthest Shore

Over at Paris Review’s site, Jonathan Gharraie wrote an article at once short and rambling about an exhibit of Arion Press’ illustrated edition of Don Quixote, complete with quotes from the translator Edith Grossman and illustrator William T. Wiley. I say at once short and rambling because it is not clear what the article is: a review of the exhibit or of the edition, an interview or Gharraie’s musing on the word quixotic and other subjects.

illustration by William T. Wiley

Nevertheless, the illustrations seem lovely, so I am sharing a couple of them here. It also affords me the opportunity to share with you Edith Grossman’s lecture Translating Cervantes. I read this about a year ago and remember the woman’s passion for literature just bursting through.

illustration by William T. Wiley

But going back to Gharraie’s article. Don Quixote was written when the printing press and books as we know them were still relatively new things in the world. It is accepted wisdom that it is (among other things) a book about books. Gharraie points out that [f]our hundred years after Cervantes’s masterpiece emerged, we now stand on the farthest shore of the printing age. And this is significant now because we have some idea of how a world without books might work. Books as we know them and bibliophiles are fast becoming quaint. If the man from La Mancha were alive today, he would himself most likely be one of those people who rails against iPads, Nooks, Kindles and other e-readers in favor of musty rooms overcluttered with books.

Gharraie is more reasonable: [w]e at least know that we would continue to read. This blog alone suggests as much. As do the sleek, gray tablets you see every morning on the subway. But I intend no jeremiad against technology. If anything, I would rather have it both ways: the book and the blog; the lavish endeavor of the lovingly prepared new edition and the take-out convenience of the virtual text.