Newly introduced by leading Quixote scholar Ilan Stavans, this 400th Anniversary edition of Don Quixote of La Mancha—called the most popular book in history after the Bible and the first modern novel—inaugurates Restless Classics: interactive encounters with great books and inspired teachers. Each Restless Classic is beautifully designed with original artwork, a new introduction for the trade audience, and a video teaching series and live online book club discussions led by passionate experts.
Described as “the novel that invented modernity,” Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote of La Mancha has become since its publication in Spain in two parts—the first in 1605, the second in 1615—a machine of meaning, endlessly adapted into ballet, theater, dance, film, music, and television, not to mention a veritable tourist industry.
Lionel Trilling argued that “all prose fiction is a variation on the theme of Don Quixote.” Mark Twain was a passionate fan. Flaubert modeled Madame Bovary after it. Dostoyevsky reimagined its protagonist in The Idiot. And Borges, in his story about Pierre Menard, looked at it as the gravitational center of Hispanic civilization. Milan Kundera fittingly summarized this unstoppable devotion when he said that “Cervantes teaches the reader to comprehend the world as a question.”
Of course, Don Quixote has its detractors, too. Nabokov, for instance, maintained it was one of the cruelest narratives ever. Still, after 400 years, the book remains with us, winding improbably through history like the famous errant knight and his companion, Sancho Panza.
The commemorative Restless Classics edition, published on the four-hundredth anniversary of its full release, features John Ormsby’s canonical English translation, illustrations by award-winning Mexican artist Eko, and an insightful, thought-provoking introduction by Ilan Stavans, one of the foremost public intellectuals today. Don Quixote, Stavans writes, is “not only a novel but a manual of life. You’ll find in it anything you need, from lessons on how to speak and eat and love to an exhortation of a disciplined, focused life, an argument against censorship, and a call to make lasting friends, which, in Cervantes’s words, is ‘what makes bearable our long journey from birth to death’.”
The volume includes access to an interactive series of video lectures by Stavans, available online at restlessbooks.com/quixote. The videos serve as map to this restless classic, which speaks more eloquently than ever to our perennial desire to sacrifice for a dream in order to see its true worth.