An 18th Century translation of ‘Don Quixote’ has been dug up from the 30’s. 

An 18th Century translation of ‘Don Quixote’ has been dug up from the 30’s. 

Known best as the first modern novel, Don Quixote is one of the world’s most loved and most-read books of all time.

Adding to its current translation of over 50 languages, a new English/Sanskrit edition of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote will be presented at the Instituto Cervantes in Delhi this week. Translated by two Kashmiri pandits from an 18th Century English translation in the 1930s, this unique adaption had lay buried and forgotten in a Harvard University library.

The translation was part of a collection of items given to the university after the 1955 death of Carl Tilden Keller (businessman/avid book collector), who actually had commissioned the translation back in 1935. “I am frank enough to admit that while I recognize the childishness of this desire of mine I am still extremely interested in having it carried out,” he wrote to his friend, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, who helped to find the translators for the job.

sanskrit don quixote
Credit: Guardian

Eight chapters were completed by Sanskrit scholars Nityanand Shastri and Jagaddhar Zadoo, working from the 18th-century English translation by Charles Jarvis. But after Kellers death in 1955, the project was dropped and forgotten, until Dr. Dragomir Dimitrov stumbled upon an article in 2012 written in 2002 article by Shastri’s grandson.  Dimitrov describes the translation as a “sweet and very precise Sanskrit”  Dimitrov went on to edit, and publish the lost adaptation in 2019.  

“A manuscript is a very fragile thing, especially if no one knows that it exists,” Óscar Pujol, the director of the Instituto Cervantes in Delhi spoke with The Guardian and shared “What we have here it the world’s first modern novel—one of the most read and published books in the world—rendered into one of the oldest languages in the world. I can’t explain what it means to have this translation.”