Review of S.P. Ganguly: study of the reception of Cervantes’ DON QUIJOTE in India


NB. Entry updated, Dec 07


I have written a review – on-line at: – of the following important
and pioneering book:

Shyama Prasad Ganguly, ed.,
Quixotic Encounters: Indian Responses to the Knight from Spain –
New Delhi: Shipra Publications, 2006, hard covers, xv + 162 pp., ISBN

The review has been published in the original English:

Re-Markings (Agra, India), Vol. 6, No. 2, September 2007, pp. 105-110.

There is also a Spanish version, translated by Esther Monzó Nebot, published in the magazine of the Indian Embassy in Spain:

Hola Namaste: La Revista de la Embajada India en España (Madrid), Year II, No 6, April 2007, pp. 59-62; on-line at:

(see entry on this blog for 15 June 2007)


Don Quijote, Miguel de Cervantes’ masterpiece considered by many to be not
only the first
but still the best novel ever written in the Western world, is also a book
that wears its own intertextuality and translatability on its sleeve,
calling out from its pages to other cultures and other texts. Thus, in the
sixth chapter of Part I (published in 1605), we find the censorious barber
and priest picking up (and preserving) a volume by none other than Miguel
de Cervantes; in the third chapter of Part II (1615), Don Quijote takes
into his hands a copy of the first part of Cervantes’ very novel featuring
himself; and from the ninth chapter of Part I on, Cervantes officially
ascribes the book to an imaginary Arab writer, Cide Hamete Benengeli, thus
making it appear to be a mere translation, done into Spanish from the
Arabic by an anonymous Moorish scribe in Toledo and relayed to the world by
Miguel de Cervantes. A book which purports in this way to be a translation
of a text from another culture, however bizarre and arbitrary that claim
may seem, has certainly positioned itself from the beginning in the front
line of a potential intercultural dialogue through translation and

In this connection, the story of the reception, translation and
appropriation of the Quijote in a culture as huge as is India must surely
appear of enormous interest, especially as we are dealing with a country
where English is widely read, English-language books are readily available,
and Cervantes’ novel has long been in circulation, if not in the original
in a country where few know Spanish, nonetheless and certainly in the
various standard translations into English. The Quijote, besides, has a
special status in Hispanic literature, as still by far the best-known
single work of literature to have come out of Spain, with Miguel de
Cervantes,who remains that country’s most celebrated writer abroad (with
only Lorca in any way approaching his name value), in the role of
standard-bearer for the literary production of an entire national culture.
Despite the clear importance of the subject, this new volume, edited by
S.P. Ganguly, Professor of Spanish at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New
Delhi, is the first study ever to have been devoted to the fortunes of Don
Quijote and Sancho Panza in India.

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