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Smollett the Scot

March 30, 1986

Your review of Smollett's translation of "Don Quixote" (Book Review, March 9) was the highlight of my Sunday morning, but may I point out that Smollett was not an Englishman, as you have him? You would, I'm sure, find Orwell's essay "Tobias Smollett: Scotland's Best Novelist" interesting and enjoyable.

LAURANCE BIRD

Santa Monica

The following paragraph, emphasis added, was accidentally omitted from our review of Smollett's translation:

There was something quixotic about Tobias Smollett's own career. Like Cervantes, he had fought on the losing side in a great naval battle. Like Cervantes, he was perennially on the brink of bankruptcy. Like Cervantes, he was a savage critic and parodist of the writers of his day. Like Cervantes, he had a weakness for lost causes, in his case --for he was a Scot-- the lost cause of Scotland. And like Cervantes, or more than Cervantes, he was a learned man, fluent in several languages. In the print-shop scene already mentioned, Smollett translates Don Quixote's richly ambiguous eulogy of the printer/translator in terms which echo in the preface to his own translation.

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