Gerald J. Davis
Finalist - Book of the Year.
#1 Best Seller on Amazon Kindle Classics.
#1 Best-Selling DON QUIXOTE Audiobook on Audible.com
Silver Medal Winner-Book of the Year.
#1 Best Seller in Epic Poetry
on Amazon Kindle.
#1 Best-Selling BEOWULF Audiobook on Audible.com
#1 Best Seller in Ancient, Classical and Medieval Poetry on Amazon Kindle.
#1 Best-Selling GILGAMESH Audiobook on Amazon.com
In the Press
Don Quixote, The New Translation
"ascends above most current translations"
"This new translation of the beloved classic attempts to return to the roots of its earliest English translation. With numerous English translations of Don Quixote already in existence, any new translator will have much to prove. Davis' translation results from his attempt to preserve 'the voice of the Shelton translation,' the earliest Quixote in English, in order to give a contemporary audience the sense of how the 17th-century masterpiece originally read. In Davis' rendering, the text ascends above most current translations, prefering 'a seventeenth century sensibility' over readability for a contemporary audience. The most readable passages occur during action scenes (even when the action takes place in Quixote's imagination), where Davis deftly navigates the text, often with great gusto. His translation bypasses literalism, freely arranging syntax and diction, and his arrangements create a colorful atmosphere and flavor, though some scholars may disagree with the mild poetic liberties he has taken. With so many translations available, Davis' Quixote provides a unique path through the work, which should find a readership in those interested in the gaps between the language of Cervantes' time and ours."
Beowulf, The New Translation
5 Stars *****
"This engrossing adventure offers modern phrasing while maintaining the spirit of earlier translations of Beowulf.
The original manuscript, written in Old English, has been translated by many scholars, and Gerald J. Davis offers his own excellent effort with Beowulf, The New Translation. Davis' Beowulf is prose but still honors the alliteration and kennings of the original manuscript. The little that Davis loses in terms of strict poetic faithfulness is more than made up for in simple, inspiring readability. Davis chooses to avoid footnotes, and it's a wise decision-it's easier to become engrossed in the story without them. As a result, he's shaped the text into a rousing adventure that could easily find a place on the Fantasy shelf at the local bookstore. Readers who've sampled other interpretations of Beowulf will be pleased to explore Davis' take on the tale. But truly to be envied are those for whom Beowulf, The New Translation will be an introduction to the world of heroes and honor, monsters and evil. Davis has created a version that helps us to imagine sitting around a fire, a thousand years ago, listening to a great story."
Gilgamesh, The New Translation
4 Stars ****
"Intriguing. Provocative. Fresh and Approachable."-ForeWord Reviews
"For GILGAMESH initiates, this is as good a place to start as any."-Kirkus Reviews
4 Stars ****
"Very well polished work that readers of history, ancient times and epic tales will be sure to dissect with pleasure. Davis has a skill at finding the true spirit of a story and distilling it down to something even more pure, before putting the pieces back together in an organic and insightful manner. The research that went into this project is highly evident from the detailed and complex structure that Davis explores throughout the book."
Red City Review
"Gerald J. Davis offers an intriguing, provocative translation of an ancient hero's tale.
Davis, whose previous work includes translations of BEOWULF and DON QUIXOTE, returns with an approachable take on a tale that predates the Bible. GILGAMESH, THE NEW TRANSLATION synthesizes the work of previous scholars with an eye toward comprehensibility, making an epic of extreme importance accessible to the masses. Davis' preface presents GILGAMESH in an exciting manner, as humanity's oldest preserved story. He briefly recounts the nature of its lengthy unearthing and its presentation in biblical circles from the nineteenth century forward. Davis presents the epic in narrative form, forgoing tendencies of previous translators to offer it in verse. This, in addition to his bold decisions regarding diction, makes the text far easier to approach than is often the case in more pedantic translations. Readers will learn what Gilgamesh is like, rather than being forced to puzzle over what the text may or may not say precisely. Davis' translation results in a version of the epic that preserves the authorial tendencies of the tablets, such as poetic repetition, while removing from them barriers created by linguistic obscurity. Readers will be swept up in Davis' presentation, in which his diction maintains the lofty tone of ancient language without the usual trappings of punctilious word choice. There's much for laymen to gain by engaging Davis' translation, which is both fresh and approachable."
The Canterbury Tales, The New Translation
4 Stars ****
"Chaucer's classic stories are given new life in this accessible translation.
Geoffrey Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES is one of those long-living books which has embedded itself into literary critique, English 101 reading lists, cultural consciousness, and the history of the English language. Gerald J. Davis's new translation offers readers an accessible entree into this early English literature.
Davis is no novice at translating classics into modern English, having previously published translations of GILGAMESH, BEOWULF, and DON QUIXOTE, alongside his own work in fiction. This experience shows as he tries to walk the tightrope described in his introduction of "rendering the voice and tone of Chaucer in a form of prose accessible to the modern reader."
Those expecting a wholesome collection of stories from pious pilgrims may be surprised by the bawdiness of the text. Chaucer's characterizations aren't Christian allegories for virtuous behavior, but are of everyday people who contain the high and base qualities of human nature. Humor, including fondness for jokes of cuckoldry, humanizes the text, and highlights why THE CANTERBURY TALES is such an enduring book. This version is a reliable option for those looking to join the walk down the road to Canterbury. Davis's translation highlights the flow of Chaucer's stories, which are still funny and poignant, centuries after they were first put to paper."
ForeWord Clarion Reviews
4 Stars ****
"An adored classic and, of course, a canonical giant, Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales bears infinite recreation and translation. That's precisely why Gerald J. Davis has put countless hours of work into researching and translating the tales from Middle English into a more contemporary, accessible dialect. Make no mistake, though, all of that reworking certainly hasn't stripped the original text of its wit or its caustic humor. The vignettes that Chaucer has painted of the various facets of English society remain as sharp as ever, and Davis has made perfectly sure that none of those biting observations ever gets lost in translation. No summary of the tales would do their portraiture justice, but suffice it to say that there are dozens of short stories that comprise the work, and each is more delightful than the last. From The Knight's Tale to The Parson's Tale and everything in between, you won't be disappointed by this literary smorgasbord.
Few versions of The Canterbury Tales have done the work such justice as Davis's has. His interpretations of the original language bring it to life in a vibrant, enthralling way. If you're a fan of Chaucer's, you really must get your hands on a copy."-
Red City Review
Le Morte d'Arthur, The New Translation
"An updated retelling of the tales of King Arthur and his Knights... A new collection that intriguingly sheds light on a famous legend."- Kirkus Reviews
**** Four Stars
Le Morte d'Arthur: The New Retelling by Gerald J. Davis underscores the heroics, drama, and majesty of the Arthurian legends without the complex, convoluted language often associated with them. This translation is a good access point for those seeking cultural understanding of the earlier texts.
Gerald J. Davis's modernized translation of the Arthurian myth follows in the tradition of his translations of Don Quixote, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, and The Canterbury Tales.
Originally by Sir Thomas Malory, who collected the legends of King Arthur, Merlin, Sir Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table in the fifteenth century, Davis's translation of Le Morte d'Arthur draws on both the Caxton and Winchester manuscripts to create an amalgam that takes "the best from each." These additions and decisions are part of what makes Davis's presentation such a treat, along with his updating of the book's language. The characters are nuanced and complex, and a love triangle between Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot is believable and heartbreaking because they are rendered with such depth.
Davis's translation adapts these timeless tales, making them more accessible without compromising their regal and grandiose tones. What this translation lacks in pedantry it possesses in passion and entertainment value. - Foreword Magazine
***** 5 Stars
In Le Morte d'Arthur: The new Retelling, award-winning author Gerald J. Davis shares his translation of the classic tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, originally written by Sir Thomas Malory. Readers are greeted by the familiar fifteenth-century characters King Arthur, Merlin, and Sir Lancelot, and are transported to an enchanting age where power and honor are vital, and sword fights are commonplace. A scandalous love triangle emerges when King Arthur's wife, Queen Guinevere, has an affair with Sir Lancelot, and this major betrayal breaks far more than Arthur's heart. The adultery starts a civil war, and the conflict and bloodshed eventually brings an end to King Arthur's kingdom.
Davis's skilled translation of Le Morte d'Arthur makes the beloved story of King Arthur and company even more grandiose and entertaining. By using a clear modern voice to convey these ancient tales, Davis makes the Arthurian figures and their adventures rich and accessible like never before. Free of the elaborate, often puzzling language common of the time period in which Malory wrote, Davis's translation allows for greater appreciation and understanding; readers are able to immerse themselves more deeply into the epic adventure as it unfolds around them. Most welcome in this retelling are the characters themselves, whose complicated emotions are conveyed completely by Davis's bright prose. It's important to note that while Davis modernizes the language of this classic story, his translation stays true to the original story of King Arthur, never straying too far away from the essential spirit and message of Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. - Red City Review
The latest classic work of literature to be interpreted by Gerald J. Davis (after 2016's The Canterbury Tales: The New Translation) is nothing short of "the earliest great work of English prose": Sir Thomas Malory's story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. This unabridged edition contains all twenty-one books--from Arthur's conception when King Uther Pendragon lay with Igraine in the Castle of Tintagel to Arthur's death battling Sir Mordred at Barham Down--as well as a fascinating Note on the Retelling, which briefly goes into Malory's incredible life.
The narrative is straightforward and striking in its simplicity, seamlessly blending the texts from two different editions: Caxton's original version and a manuscript found at Winchester College in 1934 believed to be closer to Malory's edition.
Powered by Davis' storytelling sensibilities, this adaptation embraces the classic language and meter of the time while also retaining a modern-day readability. Fans of Arthurian legend will find the time and effort put into this shelf-bending, 726-page retelling, impressive. Malory's timeless tale remains powerful more than 500 years after its initial release. Davis says it best: "...let us travel back through the dim mists of antiquity and accompany these valiant knights and their fair ladies as they journey upon their perilous quests." - BlueInk Reviews.
Gerald J. Davis is the award-winning author of thirteen works of fiction, including BEOWULF,
THE NEW TRANSLATION, Silver Medal Winner-Book of the Year.
Interview with Gerald J. Davis
“Half a page is a good day.”
Interviewer: Tell me, why did you decide to write a new translation of Don Quixote?
Davis: When I read a few of the recent translations of Don Quixote, they seemed to me to be insubstantial,
too modern and lacking the heft and gravitas, while retaining the wit and humor, which a work of this magnitude required. I felt there were too many colloquialisms, neologisms and expressions that just didn’t fit with the tenor of the original.
Interviewer: Why did you choose to use the Thomas Shelton translation as the basis for your work?
Davis: Thomas Shelton wrote the first translation of Don Quixote in 1612. He was a contemporary of Cervantes and was conversant with the Spanish of that era, although his translation was riddled with mistakes and mistranslated words and expressions. However, his translation was charged with the same kind of energy and spirit that animated the work of Cervantes. I wanted to bring Shelton’s translation into the modern age in order to give today’s readers a sense of what someone reading Don Quixote in the seventeenth century would have experienced.
Interviewer: And why should someone want to read your translation of Don Quixote?
Davis: I am a novelist. I have written eight novels and so I wanted to bring a novelist’s sensibility to what is, after all, “the greatest book of all time.” I wanted to dispense with all the footnotes and endnotes, so a reader could be able to enjoy the story for what it was, a riotous explosion of sublime storytelling. Noel Coward once famously said, “Having to read a footnote resembles having to go downstairs to answer the door while in the midst of making love.” So, if any explanations were needed, I embedded them in the text of the story. Most of the translated versions of Don Quixote have been written by academics or translators, and I wanted to write it the way a novelist would. I believe the only novelist to write an English translation of Don Quixote was Tobias Smollett in 1755, and his is great fun to read, but somewhat laborious for a modern reader because it requires many visits to an old English dictionary.
Interviewer: How long did it take you to write the book?
Davis: Seven years. However, the first two years were wasted, because it took me that long to find the right voice to tell the story. I didn’t want to use thee and thou, and a multitude of other archaisms, because that would have impeded the flow of the narrative, but I did put in a few wonts and fains and methinks to give it an archaic flavoring. In addition, I tried to use English names wherever possible, so it would not feel as if you were reading a work in translation. The matter of coinage was another problem. The profusion of maravedis, crowns, ardites, doblas, reales, ducados, escudos and vellons would have confused the most ardent coin collector. So I tried to estimate the value in today’s pesos, since the use of the Euro was out of the question. You see, a modern reader would have no idea if a maravedi was worth a penny or a hundred dollars.
Interviewer: What first gave you the idea to translate Don Quixote?
Davis: Well, I have been fascinated by this book since I first read it in my high school Spanish class. I must admit I was a little in love with my Spanish teacher, which probably added to the attraction of the story. And then, in 2004, I had just finished writing a novel and was looking for my next project. My wife and I were on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law when we stepped into a second-hand bookstore and my sister-in-law, who was born in Honduras, picked up an old copy of Don Quixote in Spanish. The sight of her paging through the book caused me to contemplate the possibility of translating the work into English. I never imagined it would take seven years to complete.
Interviewer: What is your day like? How do you go about writing?
Davis: Well, after breakfast, I climb up the stairs to my garret and begin to scribble away. Whenever King George III saw Edward Gibbon (who wrote The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire), he would say, “Scribble, scribble, eh, Mr. Gibbon?” Actually, I have been writing for over forty years and, in the beginning, I used to scribble on yellow legal pads. I try to write every day, even if it is only a few words. Emile Zola had carved on the mantel over his fireplace, “No day without a sentence.” Over the years I graduated to a laptop on which I would write during my daily rail commute into New York City. Now, I use a desktop on which I write until lunchtime. Then I take a walk and resume writing until I can write no longer. You do hit a wall after several hours, because you are immersed in an alpha state when you write and you are transported into a magical world in which it feels as if you are removed from reality and that anything is possible. It is almost like a transcendent condition which is so pleasant, until it is not. I guess I could say I am addicted to writing, obsessed by writing.
Interviewer: How faithful to Cervantes’s original is your translation?
Davis: It is a true and accurate line by line translation. I used the 400th anniversary edition published by the Royal Spanish Academy as the basis for my work. I did no violence to Cervantes’ original, although one has to update the text for punctuation, paragraphs and sentence structure, otherwise you would end up with quite convoluted sentences.
Interviewer: How different is the Spanish of Cervantes from the Spanish of today?
Davis: Not as different as you might imagine. The English of Shakespeare is quite different from today’s English, but the Spanish of Cervantes’s time has not changed as much over the years. Perhaps English is a more dynamic language. In any case, I have a good Spanish dictionary of archaic words and it proved quite useful.
Interviewer: How many pages do you write in a day?
Davis: In the past, when I wrote novels I would write about a page a day. If you want to know what got me started writing fiction, I can tell you that I read an article about a prisoner who wrote a book. He said he wrote a page a day in jail and that, at the end of a year, he had a book. I thought, “If he can write a page a day, so can I.” Now, with this translation of Don Quixote, I must say that half a page is a good day.
Interviewer: And what happened to those early books?
Davis: They are in a storeroom in the attic. Stacks of old yellow pages. I had to write five novels before I finally got it right, before I could publish anything. Call it an apprenticeship.
Interviewer: Which writers do you admire most?
Davis: Of the modern writers, I would say Mailer, Bellow and, of course, Hemmingway. I have always liked Somerset Maugham. When an interviewer asked him where he would place himself among the great authors, he said, "In the front ranks of the second-rate."
Interviewer: Thank you very much.
Davis: You're welcome. It's my pleasure.