The Government of Paraguay donates a  Guaraní  translation of Don Quijote de la Mancha to the State Library of NSW



On 16 June 2016, in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, Mr Esteban Bedoya, Head of Mission of Paraguay in Australia, presented the State Library of NSW with  a copy of the first Guaraní translation of  Don Quijote de la Mancha. The book constitutes   a unique addition to the acclaimed collection of  editions of  Don Quijote and other Cervantine texts donated to the library by Dr Ben Haneman in February 1997. Dr  Haneman (1923-2001),  a medical practitioner in the Sydney suburb of Hurstville, and  at the time of his death Australian president of the History of Medicine Society, was a scholar, bibliophile and Hispanist with a passion for Don Quijote and Hispanic languages and cultures.

            The translation into Guaraní,  by the Paraguayan poet Félix de la Guardia, was published in Asunción by Editorial Servilibro in 2013. With Spanish, Guaraní  is  one of the two national languages of the Republic of Paraguay. Approximately 90% of the country’s population  of almost 7 million  employ Guaraní as a language of  everyday communication. It is also spoken in the northern provinces of Argentina, the southern states of Brazil and in the flatland regions  of Bolivia.

            The  copy of Don Quijote in the autochthonous language of Paraguay was presented to Maggie Patton, manager of Research, Discovery, Library and Information Services of the State Library of NSW. The ceremony was held  in the Readers Room, which  currently houses 1100 different editions of Cervantes’  masterpiece, together with another one thousand books on the life and works of the Spanish master. Among the guests were Professor Roy C Boland, a  literary  critic and editor from the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies of the University of Sydney, and Drs. John Bruton and George Boland, who profess a strong interest in Paraguayan history and culture. Also in attendance was Mr Bernard Lane, a journalist from The Australian who has covered  the study and research of foreign languages in this country, including Spanish.

            The earliest volume  in this renowned collection is  the translation  by  Thomas Shelton, which was  published in 1620. An endeavour has been made to include all significant  English translations, among them editions by John Phillips (nephew of John Milton), Charles Jarvis,  Tobias Smollett  and  John Ormsby. There is also a critical edition by Vladimir Nabokov, who was    a  respected Cervantist  scholar.

            Don Quixote has been translated into more than sixty languages, and the collection includes versions in many of these languages, including Armenian, Greek, Finnish, German, French, Japanese and now Guaraní. The reader will also find  some superbly illustrated editions  by such famous  artists as William Hogarth, Gustave Doré, Salvador Dalí, Albert Dubout and Edward Ardizzone.   The  Ben Haneman collection  contains a particularly curious rewriting of  Cervantes’ novel: The Female Quijote, orThe Adventures of Arabella, by Charlotte Lennox. Published in 1752, this edition contains a dedication by the great essayist and lexicographer Samuel Johnson.

            The Embassy of Paraguay in Australia is honoured  to contribute   to the legacy of Dr Ben Haneman, who no doubt would be gratified that an edition in Guaraní has been added to the many other editions of Don Quijote in the splendid collection that bears his name in the State Library of NSW.

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