04 Feb 2009 Cervantes, Journey to Parnassus
Author of Don Quixote, Cervantes wrote Journey to Parnassus in 1614, about four years before he died. I’ve wanted to read this book for the last year or more. I had searched antiquarian bookstores online but discovered the only translation of it was in 1883, and they wanted, if memory serves, about $200 for it. Beyond what I could afford. But I kept thinking about it and searching for it once in a while. To my surprise, about a month ago, I stumbled on it on Google Books. They had scanned it in from the graduate library at the University of Michigan, where I was a student, long, long ago. What a thrill finding it. I’ve had to process the copy a little to get it to load on the 4×6 inch screen of my Sony Reader, but better than my laptop. And worth the effort. It allowed me really to be drawn much deeper into his imaginative world…
Cervantes uses the journey motif in a fascinating, humorous way to survey and lambast or applaud Spanish poets of his day and earlier. Somewhat similar to Czeslaw Milosz’s A Treatise on Poetry and other such works. Ultimately, though, it’s a self-serving work, as the genre is, and therefore of a lesser order. Nevertheless, it’s a fine work that ought to be better known in the English reading world.
The text is bilingual, allowing me to dip into the Spanish a little, which I enjoyed.