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Herbert, Joseph jherbert at ralaw.com
Fri Oct 30 11:43:25 PDT 2009

Ormsby - translator of Don Quixote

John Ormsby (1829-1895) was a nineteenth-century British translator
</wiki/Translator> . He is most famous for his 1885 English translation
of Miguel de Cervantes </wiki/Miguel_de_Cervantes> ' Don Quixote de la
Mancha </wiki/Don_Quixote_de_la_Mancha> , perhaps the most scholarly and
accurate English translation of the novel up to that time. It is so
precise that Samuel Putnam </wiki/Samuel_Putnam> , who published his own
English translation of the novel in 1949, faults Ormsby for duplicating
Cervantes' pronouns so closely that the meaning of the sentences
sometimes becomes confusing. (Precision is what Wolfe would prize most.)
Ormsby's translation has seen more editions than any other
nineteenth-century English version of the novel, having been included in
the Heritage Book Club series of great novels, and in the famous Great
Books of the Western World </wiki/Great_Books_of_the_Western_World>
set. The contemporaneous translations by Alexander J. Duffield
</w/index.php?title=Alexander_J._Duffield&action=edit&redlink=1>  (1881)
and Henry Edward Watts
</w/index.php?title=Henry_Edward_Watts&action=edit&redlink=1>  (1888)
have been virtually forgotten. Ormsby's translation was the first
English version of Cervantes's book to appear complete on the Internet.
Ormsby not only translates the novel; he provides a long and informative
introduction with a brief analysis of all the major English versions of
"Don Quixote" up to then (except for the Duffield version), as well as
explaining the choices that he himself made in translating the novel. He
also features a short biography of Cervantes in his introduction, as
well as providing his own controversial analysis of the work. Ormsby
refutes the widely accepted view that "Don Quixote" is a sad novel with
allegorical meanings and a pessimistic philosophy, and states that
because Cervantes himself declared it to be a satire against books of
chivalry, it is primarily only that, although it does contain much
observation on human character. Ormsby also refutes, in addition, the
commonly held view that Don Quixote is an innately noble person, stating
that his nobility of character is an attitude that he assumes simply to
imitate his knightly heroes. An 1886 edition of the Quarterly Review
</wiki/Quarterly_Review>  , published only a year after Ormsby's
translation was first issued, took him to task for his limited
interpretation of the novel and of Don Quixote's character, while
praising the accuracy of the translation. [1] <> 

(I think that's what Wolfe intends. That we read his story and wish to
imitate his hero. Like he read the stories of knights as a boy and
wished to imitate the hero (like I did a long time ago too). That is
also, I believe, why he chose a boy changed into a man (who is still a
boy inside) as a hero. All the better that we readers recall our desire
to imitate the hero while at the same time reflecting on our current
lives and measuring how closely we reached the mark we set ourselves as
boys . . . 
I think it was a beautiful thing indeed what he did in writing the book
this way. It rang me like a bell I can tell you.

Is "arthur ormsby" another name for King arthur?.  Pendragon - but what
was the common name, family name?  . . .  

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