Releasing the Spanish Interlinear Translation of “The Colloquy of The Dogs” by Cervantes, the Father of Modern Spanish Literature

We are enormously pleased to release a Spanish to English Interlinear translation of a book by none other than Miguel de Cervantes himself.

A sample of the Interlinear translation of Miguel de Cervantes' "The Colloquy of The Dogs"
A sample of the Interlinear translation of Miguel de Cervantes’ “The Colloquy of The Dogs”

1. Who is Miguel de Cervantes?

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was a XVII-th century Spanish writer, considered by some to be Spain’s greatest literary figure. His most famous work, Don Quixote de la Mancha, is often seen as one of the best works of fiction ever written. It is, after the Bible, the most widely edited and translated book in the world. Cervantes’ influence on the Spanish language and literature is often equated to William Shakespeare’s influence to English. Spanish is often called “the language of Cervantes,” and the largest organization in the world for promoting the Spanish language and culture is also called the Cervantes Institute (Instituto Cervantes).

2. What is “The Colloquy of the Dogs”?

“The Colloquy of the Dogs” (or “El coloquio de los perros” in Spanish, further on – The Colloquy) is a novella written by Miguel de Cervantes. A great amount of literary scholarship identifies it as Cervantes’ finest work next to Don Quixote (see e.g. Arthur F. Kinney, L.A. Murillo, Edward C. Riley).

The Colloquy is a novella in Cervantes’ larger novella set “Exemplary Novels” (“Novelas ejemplares”), which was published in 1613. The Colloquy is commonly read as an independent novella, although it has a frame tale, called “The Deceitful Marriage” (or “El casamiento engañoso”).

In “The Deceitful Marriage”, a soldier Campuzano is recovering from a disease at a hospital in Valladolid. He meets an old friend Peralta and tells him that he overheard (or, as the story implies, possibly hallucinated due to his disease) and wrote down a conversation between two dogs.

Another thing I have to remark, said Campuzano, is, that, as I was very attentive, my apprehension very sensitive, and my memory very retentive … , I got it all by heart, and wrote it down, word for word, the next day, without attempting to colour or adorn it, or adding or suppressing anything to make it attractive. The conversation took place not on one night only, but on two consecutive nights, though I have not written down more than one dialogue, that which contains the life of Berganza. His comrade Scipio’s life, which was the subject of the second night’s discourse, I intend to write out, if I find that the first one is believed, or at least not despised. I have thrown the matter into the form of a dialogue to avoid the cumbrous repetition of such phrases as, said Scipioreplied Berganza

Campuzano starts reading it to his friend, and so begins The Colloquy. In The Colloquy, two dogs suddenly and mysteriously find themselves having the gift of speech.

One of the dogs, named Berganza, retells his own life experiences. While he does so, he gives the reader a* tour of the Spanish society and worldview.

Berganza describes many different groups living in Spain in the XVII-th century: butchers, shepherds, officers, marginalized groups such as Moriscos or Romani people, etc.

He touches upon many topics important to his century, including Spanish folk tales, royal politics or witchcraft. During the telling of the story, the two dogs converse and reveal many of their values of their times, such as humility or honesty, and, more controversially, their convictions and biases.

The novella also includes symbols and hidden meanings. For example, the names of the two dogs are possibly purposeful: Cipión likely comes from Scipion, a famous war hero, while Berganza is related to “bergante”, which translates to “rascal.” Thus, the story resembles a “doggy version of Don Quixote,” where a hero is traveling with his less extraordinary companion (Sancho Panza).

There are a lot of other symbols which can be found by analyzing the story. Overall, this tale serves not only as a great overview of the Spanish society at the time, but it is also a nice transition for Spanish learners into reading more Cervantes, since this book possesses much of the vocabulary and structures found in his stories.

3. What does the Interlinear translation include?

Our Interlinear translation includes the entire, unabridged and unedited original story of over 20,000 words and expressions translated in the Interlinear format. The translation follows two main principles: “literal but understandable” and “embracing to cognates.”

The first one means that the translation attempts to remain as faithful to the original text as possible. The latter one means that it tries to use English cognates of Spanish where it is possible, so “Coloquio” is translated as “Colloquy,” whereas it could also have been translated as “Dialogue.” Here’s an illustration of one of the passages from the translation:

Miguel de Cervantes' "The Colloquy of The Dogs"
A sample of the Interlinear translation of Miguel de Cervantes’ The Colloquy of The Dogs

As usual, our book is currently available only as an electronic book in PDF or experimental EPUB file formats. We include printer-friendly PDF files in order to enable the printing of the book. You get a download link to the book immediately upon purchasing it.

You can find out more by visiting the translation page.

4. Who is the translation for?

Like our previous Interlinear translations from German, SwedishLithuanian and Russian, this Spanish Interlinear translation of Cervantes works great for intermediate to advanced Spanish learners and people interested in reading classical Spanish literature in the original language.

The translation should work great if you are both of these. However, it has to be acknowledged that Cervantes’ Spanish sometimes uses archaic words and expressions. While Spanish has not changed as much as English, four hundred years have passed since the text was written and thus some changes in the language were inevitable. Readers of the book and learners of the language will have to take this into account, and they may well need a dictionary to look up some of the words further. Yet, if you want to eventually read Cervantes as part of your Spanish studies (which, some say, is a quintessential Spanish-learning experience), this Interlinear book is an excellent place to start!

5. Where do I get the Interlinear book?

You can find out more about this bilingual Spanish book by Cervantes on our site. The book may be purchased on that same page.

6. Other translations and information!

Aside from our Spanish Interlinear translation, you may check out  Swedish, RussianGerman or Lithuanian bilingual Interlinear books.

You can also subscribe to our mailing list to be among the first to find out about our new releases. We are also already preparing the next translation and some changes to Interlinear Books, thus do stay tuned! Finally, a request: If you like this Spanish book and would like to see more Interlinear books in the future, please share – thanks heaps!

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