This authoritative textual edition presents Tobias Smollett's translation of Cervantes's Don Quixote in the form most faithful to Smollett's own intentions. It includes Francis Hayman's twenty-eight illustrations engraved for the original edition, Smollett's explanatory notes, and his prefatory "Life of Cervantes."
Smollett's Don Quixote first appeared in 1755 and was for many years the most popular English-language version of Cervantes's masterpiece. However, soon after the start of the nineteenth century, its reputation began to suffer. Rival translators, literary hucksters, and careless scholars initiated or fed a variety of charges against Smollett--even plagiarism. For almost 130 years no publisher risked reprinting it.
Redemption began in 1986, when the distinguished Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, in his foreword to a new (albeit flawed) edition of Smollett's translation, declared it to be "the authentic vernacular version" of Don Quixote in English. Fuentes's opinion was in accord with that of the preeminent Cervantist, Francisco Rodríguez Marín, who decades earlier had declared Smollett's Don Quixote to be his preferred English version.
Martin C. Battestin's introduction discusses the composition, publication, and controversial reception of Smollett's Don Quixote. Battestin's notes identify Smollett's sources in his "Life of Cervantes" and in his commentary, provide cross-references to his other works, and illustrate Smollett's originality or dependence on previous translations. Also included is a complete textual apparatus, a glossary of unfamiliar terms, and an appendix comparing a selection of Francis Hayman's original illustrations with the engraved renderings used in the book.