The Celestina is considered by scholars to be the first European novel. Written in fifteenth-century Spain, this masterpiece is remarkable for its originality, depth, handling of dialogue, and drawing of character. The novel's focus is the character of Celestina, who dominates the scene. An old bawd brimming with salty wisdom derived from a vigorous and sinful life, she is one of the great creations of all literature and holds a secure place beside her two compatriots, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. This Spanish classic, the greatest of the forebears of Cervantes, was originally published anonymously, in 1499; later editions bear the name of Fernando de Rojas as author.
Lesley Byrd Simpson was a renowned translator of many great works of Spanish literature. His translations of The Celestina and The Poem of the Cid (both UC Press books) in particular preserve the vigor and colloquial flavor of the original.