Here is a recovered Renaissance classic, a Catalan novel of chivalry done into English for the first time by a gifted poet and translator. Cervantes singles out Tirant lo Blanc for very special praise in Don Quixote—in the scene in which the don’s friends, eager to save his sanity, are making a bonfire of the romances of chivalry which have constituted his sole intellectual and spiritual nourishments. Cervantes makes a pointed exception of this work, putting into the mouth of a character the suggestion that the book deserves to remain in print throughout the ages.
So it has—and now it can be read in David H. Rosenthal’s lively English. Tirant lo Blanc presents the life of the Renaissance nobility: politics, lovemaking, and war. The hero participates in all these activities with a great deal of dash and good humor, there is much excellent conversation along the way, and by the time the story has come to its satisfying conclusion, the modern reader is convinced that life was quite as complex 500 years ago as it is today—and, for the European nobility, perhaps a good deal more entertaining.
About Joanot Martorell
David H. Rosenthal is the translator of Four Postwar Catalan Poets, Modern Catalan Poetry: An Anthology, The Time of the Doves, and Two Tales by Mercé Rodoreda, and the author of a book of verse, Eyes on the Street.
ound a wealth of pleasure and a gold mine of enjoyment in it. . . . I swear to you, my friend, that it’s the best book of its kind in the world . . . the author deserved to have it kept in print all his life. Take it home and read it, and you’ll see everything I’ve said is true.” —Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote “[Martorell is] the first of that lineage of God-supplanters—Fielding, Balzac, Dickens, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Joyce, Faulkner—who try to create in their novels an “all-encompassing reality.”” —Mario Vargas Llosa
“The original Catalan, full of subtleties, runs the gamut from rhetorical prose to everyday conversation. David H. Rosenthal, who has a profound knowledge both of medieval and modern Catalan, undertook the arduous and risky talk of translating this great Catalan novel . . . and I can say that he was entirely successful in his heroic projects.” —Martin de Riquer