The Novel and the World
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393083026, 288pp.
Publication Date: September 8, 2015
The year 2015 marks the four hundredth anniversary of the publication of the complete Don Quixote of La Mancha--an ageless masterpiece that has proven unusually fertile and endlessly adaptable. Flaubert was inspired to turn Emma Bovary into "a knight in skirts." Freud studied Quixote's psyche. Mark Twain was fascinated by it, as were Kafka, Picasso, Nabokov, Borges, and Orson Welles. The novel has spawned ballets and operas, poems and plays, movies and video games, and even shapes the identities of entire nations. Spain uses it as a sort of constitution and travel guide; and the Americas were conquered, then sought their independence, with the knight as a role model.
In Quixote, Ilan Stavans, one of today's preeminent cultural commentators, explores these many manifestations. Training his eye on the tumultuous struggle between logic and dreams, he reveals the ways in which a work of literature is a living thing that influences and is influenced by the world around it.