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Cervantes compiled and published the Novelas ejemplares in 1613. This collection of twelve long short stories had evidently been some time in the making since one of the collection
is mentioned in Part I of Don Quijote where it appears together with El curioso impertinente in a piece of left luggage in Juan Palomeque’s inn. Cervantes evidently produced many examples of the novela throughout his career, some incorporated into his longer works, including Persiles y Sigismunda, and some left in the looser format of the anthology.
Cervantes's Prologue to the Reader is an important testimony to Cervantes’s sense of his status as a writer. His jocular self-description dwells with some satisfaction
on his career as a soldier, and on the wound he received at the Battle of Lepanto, but he reserves the majority of his pride
for the remarkable achievement of this collection. He emphasises the originality of the stories, their moral force (the more
notable for the amount of sex and violent crime they contain), and, intriguingly, the mystery they contain.
Cervantes’s novelas circulated in England soon after their publication in Spain, but the first, partial, translation of the collection was not
published until 1640 when James Mabbe brought out six of the twelve stories. In 1992 the first complete parallel text translation
was published under the general editorship of B.W. Ife (Warminster: Aris and Phillips). This translation was described in
The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation as ‘very impressive, and this will clearly remain the definitive translation for some time to come.’ The edition is currently
being revised and will be re-issued in 2005 by Oxbow Books. Click here to read Barry Ife’s general introduction.
See the full bibliography of of various articles on the Novelas published in Journal of Hispanic Research and forthcoming in A Critical Guide to the ‘Novelas ejemplares’.
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