Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote (1867)

Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote; compiled by Emma Thompson, from the work of Miguel de Cervantes; 1867; New York, D. Appleton & co.

From whole multi-paragraph excerpts to single lines, this wonderful little book dedicates itself, as the title declares, to presenting the “wit and wisdom” to be found in Miguel de Cervantes’ masterpiece Don Quixote. As the preface states, the translator and compiler of the book (a woman named Emma Thompson, or at least so a handwritten note on the title-page to this copy proclaims) very much situates the work in the apparently very Spanish penchant for proverbs. The book is not grouped into distinct sections, each addressing a particular theme, as one might expect publishers to insist on today. Instead, we are faced with an appropriately chaotic and meandering presentation of the unique mind of the “Knight of the Rueful Countenance” — one which offers up such enigmatic treats as “Gifts are good after Easter” and such sage advice as “The bow cannot remain always bent, and relaxation, both of body and mind, is indispensable to all.”

For more on Cervantes’ knight-errant of La Mancha check out our essay “Picturing Don Quixote“, in which Rachel Schmidt explores how the varying approaches to illustrating the tale have reflected and impacted its reading through the centuries.

Housed at: Internet Archive | From: The Library of Congress
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No additional rights
Download: PDF | Ebook and other formats.