Spanish writer Andres Trapiello is used to painstaking research at his desk, and he needed all his scholarly patience for his latest work: adapting Spain’s most revered novel, ‘Don Quixote’. Labouring to render in modern Spanish this 17th-century comic masterpiece about a delusional would-be knight, he stumbled on an unfamiliar word: ‘trompogelas’. ‘It was absolutely unintelligible,’ Trapiello told AFP. After a whole morning’s research, he decided it meant something like: ‘It went in one ear and out the other.’ Spaniards are crazy for ‘Don Quixote’. They often quote the tale of the bumbling country gentleman and his tubby sidekick Sancho Panza, whose misguided adventures are known to readers worldwide. But as they mark the fourth centenary of the novel’s completion and the author’s death, sceptics are asking: how many Spanish-speakers can actually read the original

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