This translation was finished more or less in time to mark the fourth centenary of the publication of Don Quixote, Part I (1605-2005). It has been a long time—five years—coming. When I read the original in J. Richard Andrews’ Don Quijote1 class as a graduate student at ucla in 1964, I thought then that this was a project I really would like to do one day, but I felt I needed a bit more experience with the text before I could undertake it. I didn’t realize at the time that I would delay forty-odd years. In that four-decade period, I taught the original Spanish version of the novel twenty times, and in English translation four times; I prepared a Spanish edition for students (with more than 10,000 English glosses in the margins and about 3750 footnotes), and I compiled a Don Quixote Dictionary. Along the way I published about twenty articles about the book, prepared eleven reviews dealing with the novel (including two reviews of recent translations, and one of a motion picture), and spoke thirty-six times and counting, at congresses and symposia on topics dealing with Don Quixote (and one of these lectures made headlines in Madrid’s newspaper El País). All of this was wonderful preparation for the task at hand.
But why do yet another translation? After all, in the last ten years three other English translations have come out (Burton Raffel, John Rutherford, Edith Grossman). The reason I felt justified in doing this translation is that translations are sometimes based on faulty Spanish editions, or editions that took too many liberties with the original text, fixing perceived errors, changing chapter titles, even adding text to the work. That their translations reflect the defects of the Spanish editions is, of course, not the fault of the translators. Read on, and you’ll discover why these so-called errors and wrong chapter titles really should be left as written by Cervantes.