This article explores Edmund Gayton's Pleasant notes upon Don Quixot (1654), a sentence-by-sentence commentary on Thomas Shelton's 1612 and 1620 translation of Cervantes. Gayton's text partakes in the characteristics of a series of translations from the Spanish that involve some degree of intrigue against the English polity. Pleasant notes itself was a defense of pre–Civil War literary values (where Ben Jonson is regarded as the English Cervantes) and of pre–Civil War and Civil War Oxford (during which time the university was the royalist headquarters), which is presented as a picaresque, carnivalesque utopia. Mock-romance becomes an acceptable mode of fantasy for the defeated royalist, including erotic encounters offered as a culturally rebellious, defiantly anti-Puritan activity. Gayton's playfulness is, in its own terms, consistent with the cultural interplay of Spanish and English terms manifest in James Mabbe's earlier translations of Spanish romance, Rojas's Celestina and Aleman's Guzman, and their own pro-Roman-Catholic politics, played out in the real and literary landscapes where Spanish and English interests met–in the Low Countries.
Nigel Smith; Windmills over Oxford: Quixotic and Other Subversive Spanish Narratives in England, 1606–1654. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 January 2009; 39 (1): 95–117. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-2008-015
Download citation file: