Don Quixote and Romanticism in nineteenth-century England: irony in Duffield’s, Ormsby’s and Watts’ translations
Hamilton, Fiona Evelyn
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The aim of this thesis is to offer a comparative analysis of the nineteenth-century translations of Don Quixote into English, which have received little critical attention to date. During this process I will focus on the issue of translating irony, in order to engage in the discussion regarding reader response to Don Quixote in England during the nineteenth century. This reader reception represents another area of research yet to be studied in any significant detail. This thesis will take the following structure: in the first chapter I will provide a background into the existing problems and working concepts as they have been researched so far. In the course of this I will look at the work of Allen (2008) in particular, as the critic who has provided the longest known, though by no means exhaustive, list of examples of irony identified in Don Quixote. This will be followed by a review of reader response along the centuries, beginning with the seventeenth and eighteenth and then an overview of the nineteenth. I will then engage in an analysis of specific examples of irony, using a representative sample taken from Allen’s selection. The conclusions this analysis will offer will shed further light on the importance of studying irony in Don Quixote, and also on how irony can be used as an explanation as to why so many translations of it were produced in such quick succession in the 1880s, after so long without any new versions. This research also considers the question of the transience of irony and the extent to which what constitutes irony changes over time, as reflected by a similar list of examples of irony compiled by Albert Calvert (1905). My analysis will also add further evidence to the two main debates surrounding critical opinion on Don Quixote in the nineteenth century; firstly, that Ormsby’s is justified in being regarded as the best translation of the three produced in that century, if not of all time, and secondly, the ongoing debate over whether or not Don Quixote was or should still have been regarded as a Romantic novel during the 1880s. By tracking trends and shifts in critical thinking down the centuries since Don Quixote first appeared at the start of the seventeenth century, my analysis will also offer some comment on the novel’s subsequent twentieth-century reception. Moreover, as the first study of all three of the nineteenth-century translations of Don Quixote into English, my conclusions make an important and original contribution to the emerging area of study into Cervantes in a transnational context.