Miguel de Cervantes’s most famous work, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha) was published in two installments released ten years apart in 1605 and 1615. In 1613, Cervantez wrote El Coloquio de los Perros (The Conversation of the Dogs). Many scholars consider it to be his finest work next to Don Quixote.
In 1881, George Bell and Sons published the only known English translation of this work. Walter K. Kelly, a prolific writer and translator of books of historical significance, did the translation. Although the English-speaking world owes their thanks to Kelly and the publisher, the book couldn’t have been very accessible even then. The opening sentence is 73 words long. The second is a little better, coming in at 47 words.
Cervantes work is now in the public domain, of course, so we can mess with it all we want. You can download that lone English version, translated from the Spanish in 1881 by Walter K. Kelley of London, from the Gutenburg project.
The story begins with a young man in a hospital, who, through a window, sees and hears two dogs begin to speak at the stroke of midnight. The dogs, Scipio and Berganza, discuss their experiences with their human masters. Cervantes leaves the reader to determine whether or not the dogs have actually been talking or the bedridden man has imagined it.
We asked the alumni of Wizard Academy to give their best shot at doing a modern rewrite of the classic.
This whole endeavor reminds me of that passage in Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon where young Daniel is taken by his father to a very old library in Barcelona:
“This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens. This place was already ancient when my father brought me here for the first time, many years ago.”
We brought The Conversation of the Dogs back to life again. Here are the 22 different retellings of it.