`Don Quixote` becomes interactive

Madrid: Spain`s National Library has unveiled its first interactive book, ‘Don Quixote’, which has been digitalised on the Internet to offer readers additional content that will help them to better understand Miguel de Cervantes` work with tapes, music and maps of the travels of the clever knight-errant and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza.

The online edition of the 17th century pinnacle of Cervantes` work even allows readers to hear the sound of turning pages as they "leaf through" the interactive edition.

To create ‘The interactive Quixote’, a collaborative project among the National Library and the Telefonica and Madpixel companies, almost 30 experts - including librarians, scholars specialising in the art and music of the epoch, computer programmers, analysts and graphic designers - invested more than 5,000 hours of labour.

Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde emphasised that the work is "more alive than ever ... (and) resists all technological challenges", adding that this new edition of "Quixote" is "very coherent" and fully reflects the exciting spirit of Cervantes.

New technology has allowed experts to digitalise at a very high level of quality the 1,282 pages of the two volumes of Cervantes` first edition of the book, which is housed at the National Library and is available now on that institution`s webpage: www.bne.es.

The quality of the digitalization allows optimum amplification of the original text along with the original imperfections of the paper on which it was printed. With regard to the interactive nature of the new edition, the reader will have access to multimedia content that will help to put the work into better context.

With just one click, the reader can view a map on which the four fictional journeys taken by Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, listen to music from the period or immerse oneself in the daily life of the 17th century.

The reader also will be able to navigate through the 50 different editions of "Don Quixote" that have been digitalized and are available at the Hispanic Digital Library, along with books about knighthood, as well as to perform searches within the text or share portions of the work on Facebook.

The interactive volume incorporates a word for word transcription of the original text which allows readers to superimpose and compare this transcription adapted to modern Spanish with the original text.

Jose Maria Lucia, a professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and author of the transcription of the text on the web, said that "The interactive Quixote is the first stone in a more ambitious edifice."

The National Library wants for the "bibliographic jewels" it has among its holdings to be digitalised so they can be offered free of charge to the public.

This is not a matter just of reproducing the physical object but also of enriching it with explanatory and other material and making it more accessible, Lucia said.

And this is not the first time that the adventures of Quixote and his squire have been offered using new technologies. On Oct 15, China screened its 3D film adaptation of the work entitled ‘Tang Ji Je De’.

More than 1,700 3D screens all across the Asian country are now showing the film in which well-known actor Ge You brings life to a Don Quixote rather younger than Cervantes` character and whose Spanish knightly attire has been exchanged for kung fu garb.