Over the course of the last few months, our class has been researching don Quixote and procuring artifacts from our local library that detail his travels. We found many resources, including translations in different languages, movies, paintings, and even books written about the characters depicted in the book. But some of these objects have been around for longer then we have been alive and have a detailed history with them, from a doodle drawn by Picasso, to a movie made in Spanish detailing the story of don Quixote, to even a biography of Sancho Panza, a fictional character that was instrumental in the growth of don Quixote’s character and his foil. I was tasked with reviewing the painting “DON QUIXOTE” by Scott Gustafson, and the Samuel Putnam translation of don Quixote from 1963.
The first object we have is the 1963 edition of Samuel Putnam’s translation of don Quixote. This edition of the novel is one thousand and forty-three pages long and is eight point three inches tall by five point three inches long by two point one inches wide, it was also published by the Viking Press publishing company, founded and based in New York City. This translation is a reprint of his 1949 version of the novel, known to many as Putnam’s finest and most famous work, although it took him twelve years to translate and print the book. It is also the first version of the novel to be translated into contemporary, or modern, English. Although there is a bit of archaic English, but the presence of it is hardly noticeable to most readers. The characters who are educated in the novel speak with a sophisticated tone, while the peasants and non-educated characters speak modern English. This translation has extremely popular since its publishing, rarely being out of print after it’s release. Putnam also worked on translating two of Cervantes’ twelve ‘Novelas ejemplares’ or Exemplary Novels. Putnam also made an abridged version of his translation of don Quixote in a book called the Portable Cervantes. This translation was included in our exhibit because many people see this translation as THE translation for reading don Quixote and its ability to last in publication for over sixty years and bringing the novel to modern English for the first time.
One of the more colorful artifacts we have on display is a painting called “DON QUIXOTE” by the painter Scott Gustafson, the original painting was oil on panel in thirty-four by thirty-eight inches. In our exhibit, we have a picture of it that has been printed out on a sheet of computer paper and it is eight and a half inches by eleven inches. The picture is a limited-edition painting and only nine-hundred and fifty pieces were made and was they were produced by The Greenwich Village. The painting depicts don Quixote in his gold-trimmed knight armor, upon his steed Rocinante, while looking gallantly to the left. Meanwhile, Sancho Panza is dressed up in his peasant outfit, looking up at Quixote questionably, as if asking him what they are going to do next. Behind him, he has a sack of food for him to eat later, if he so desires. In the bottom left, there’s a few sheep grazing on the grass hill that is where out knight and squire are staying in the picture. In the bottom right, there is a flock of scrawny roosters, Gustafson commented on this by saying how they represent Quixote’s “foolish, macho intention to impress a lady in his life.” Located around the painting are a group of stone windmills, in the book, Quixote believes them to be giants and tries to fight them. Gustafson painted the picture that was set during the tilting at windmills chapter, when Quixote is conferring with Sancho that he will do battle with the windmills he believes to be giants. The sky is also set during the sunset because Scott wanted to establish that the moment we see here is “the last shining moments of chivalry.” He also entices the viewer to look more, “Is Quixote the only one who experiences flights of fancy? Look closely at one of the clouds in the distance and you just might see the outlines of a giant wielding a club.” He does this to reinforce one of the themes of the novel, that sometimes, our fantasies shape the world around us. My group chose this picture because it symbolizes most of what don Quixote is as a person, and as a legendary figure of literature. We see the picture of don Quixote before the windmills, one of, if not THE most iconic scenes from the novel that people who have not even read it will know what you are talking about. The roosters and the sunset represent the end of the knight and chivalry culture and the roosters represent don Quixote’s futile attempts to woo Dulcinea and be a successful knight errant.
The display case that is located to the right of the library when you walk in is where all our artifacts are located. There even is a windmill that one of our own members made, as well as sword and the word don Quixote, mad out of smaller pictures of the knight errant himself. There even is a map that depicts the locations in Spain where don Quixote would have traveled if he was not like a fictional character like what he read in his books. There even are two statues that depict don Quixote and Sancho Panza as how an artist thought about how they would have looked based on their descriptions in the book. Don Quixote is an epic tale of a knight born in the wrong time, and how he strives to find purpose in his imaginary world and win his true love’s heart. I urge all of you to go to the exhibit, and read the woebegone knight’s tale for yourself.
El Caballero Don Quixote Dir. Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón. 2002.
“DON QUIXOTE”, n.d., by Scott Gustafson
Worldcat.org. Online Computer Library Center, 2010, worldcat.org/identities/
lccn-n50-49340/. Accessed 15 Dec. 2016.
Greenwichworkshop.com. www.greenwichworkshop.com/details/default.asp?p=1423&a=28&t=1&page=4&detailtype=artist. Accessed 15 Dec. 2016.
Gustafson, Scott. “Don Quixote.” Scottgustafson.com, 2016,