Monday, February 16, 2009

Quixotic Conversations

Anyone who has the misfortune of knowing me in person will instantly recognize the pattern of this conversation:
When Don Quixote and Sancho were shut away together, they had a conversation that is recounted in the history with a good deal of accuracy and attention to detail.

Sancho said to his master:

“Señor, I’ve already conveyanced my wife to let me go with your grace wherever you want to take me.”

Convinced is what you mean, Sancho,” said Don Quixote, “not conveyanced.”

“Once or twice,” responded Sancho, “if I remember correctly, I’ve asked your grace not to correct my words if you understand what I mean by them, and when you don’t understand, to say: ‘Sancho, you devil, I don’t understand you,’ and if I can’t explain, then you can correct me; I’m so plaint….”

“I do not understand you, Sancho,” said Don Quixote, “because I do not know what I am so plaint means.”

“So plaint means,” responded Sancho, “That’s just the way I am.”

“Now I understand you even less,” replied Don Quixote.

“Well, if you can’t understand me,” responded Sancho, “I don’t know any other way to say it; that’s all I know, and may God protect me.”

“Oh, now I have it,” responded Don Quixote. “You mean to say that you are so pliant, so docile and softhearted, that you will accept what I tell you and learn what I teach you.”

“I’ll bet,” said Sancho, “you knew what I was saying and understood me from the beginning, but wanted to mix me up so you could hear me make another two hundred mistakes.”

“That may be,” replied Don Quixote.
Taken from Edith Grossman's excellent new translation; second part, chapter VII.


Esteban Vázquez said...


Felix Culpa said...

Yeah, sorry. I've been thus far unable to find the Slavonic original.

Esteban Vázquez said...

Why, Father, if only you should have asked, I would have provided you with a copy at once. ;-)

Felix Culpa said...

Do you happen to have a pre-Nikonian version?

Esteban Vázquez said...

Well, of course! I said that I had in Slavonic, did I not? Accept no substitutes. ;-)

(PS: I'm simply delighted to see just how well Sancho's "linguistic transgressions," as they have often been called in Spanish-language Cervantes scholarship, have come out in English!)