Translated by Tobias Smollet. With an Introduction by David Whitlock.
According to tradition Cervantes first conceived his comic masterpiece in jail - his avowed intent being to debunk the romances of chivalry. From first publication Don Quixote was a best-seller, initially taken as a knockabout account of a mad Spanish gentleman and his cowardly peasant squire, but later reinterpreted as an enlightenment text, a representation of universal human nature, a myth of a tragic hero defending man's nobler aspirations, a study in alienation, a spiritual autobiography, a metaphor for Spain's imperial decline, an experimental novel that shaped later prose fiction, a tragedy and comedy in one, and a demonstration that ambiguity and uncertainty can lie at the centre of great art and that great art can be comic.
Smollet's vigorous and lively translation brilliantly catches the feeling and tone of the Spanish original. It is a comic novelist's homage to a comic novelist.