Words on the Street:

Terry Gilliam is in love with Edinburgh on Valentine’s Day.

To celebrate his favourite book, the international director, screenwriter, animator and Monty Python member unveiled a 10 metre wide illuminated neon-effect sign displaying a quote from Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote on Jeffrey Street in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

I shall tear up trees with my bare teeth!
I shall crush mountains with my fists!
I shall go crazy – for love!

This page is the perfect starting point to discover more about Don Quixote’s relationship with Edinburgh, Edinburgh’s publishing history, how great artists remain inspired by great books in our City of Literature, and why City of Literature Trust asked Gilliam for the opening salvo in their new Words on the Street project.


Happy Valentine’s Day from Terry Gilliam and Edinburgh City of Literature!

Well, Gilliam’s Don Quixote project curse seems to be lifting. The quote was meant to be up and running by Valentine’s Day, and it sure is. Gilliam 1 – Windmills 0! Now bring that movie in too Terry, we can’t wait to see it.

Terry Gilliam unveils his Don Quixote inspired Valentine’s Day message to Edinburgh

At the end of his two-day whistle stop visit to Edinburgh, Terry Gilliam unveiled the 10 metre wide neon-style illuminated Don Quoxote quote that had given him tremendous inspiration, hoping it would do the same to passersby and people coming in and out of Edinburgh’s Waverley railway station.

The sign can be found on the railings on Jeffrey Street but is best seen from East Market Street just below. It will be on show from Valentine’s Day until the middle of March and is a new element in the Words on the Street project by City of Literature Trust.

Gilliam’s chosen quote overlooks the New Waverley part of town, which is currently being transformed into a vibrant pedestrian-friendly urban district with shops, restaurants, hotels, offices and appartments with a newly created open public square at the heart of it.

Quixote’s Curse strikes again

Working on a project that involves Don Quixote is always going to be one which has bedevilling aspects, as Terry Gilliam knows only too well, as will those of you who have watched Lost in La Mancha. We’re experiencing a bit of the old Quixote Curse and have had a few hiccups and delays along the route but we are continuing work on the installation of the quote today in preparation for Valentine’s Day on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Terry himself is having a great time in Edinburgh, and is particularly enjoying the city’s architecture, whisky and winding streets. He’ll be exploring the National Library of Scotland’s many bookish gems and is looking forward to seeing the Quixote quote illuminated.

As a wiser man said before:

“… he who’s down one day can be up the next, unless he really wants to stay in bed, that is…” ― Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Since we mentioned Jeffrey Street, let us take a quick look at Francis Jeffrey and the Edinburgh Review

It’s all happening in Jeffrey Street today, so we are starting the day with a closer look at the man who gave his name to it, Francis Jeffrey.

Professor Ian Campbell will get you up to speed on Jeffrey’s involvement with the Edinburgh Review, which under his editiorial stewardship at the start of the nineteenth century became one of the major outlets for literary criticism and public debate in the English-speaking world.

Francis Jeffrey and the Edinburgh Review >

And now for something completely different:
Gilliam’s Don Quixote in Edinburgh

Hang on a minute! What has Don Quixote got to do with Edinburgh? Why is Gilliam involved? Why is the sign in Jeffrey Street, of all places? What is this Words on the Street project all about? We’re sure you’ve got some questions. Here you will find some answers.

About Terry Gilliam’s illuminated Don Quixote art installation >

A closer look at Tobias Smollett, the Edinburgh translator of Don Quixote

Tobias Smollett was an author and translator of the Scottish Enlightenment. He was a tremendously popular author of what are broadly termed ‘picaresque’ novels of the late eighteenth century.

He also translated Cervantes’ masterpiece Don Quixote and his popular translation contributed greatly to the spread of the novel through the English-speaking world.

Here we look at the importance of Smollett within the picaresque and his relationship with Cervantes’ Don Quixote, with help from the University of Edinburgh’s Professor John Garrido Ardila.

Tobias Smollett: Picaresque or Cervantean? >

Don Quixote: A closer look at the classic novel

Often described as the world’s first modern novel, Cervantes’ Don Quixote must be the most famous book that most people haven’t read.

So what’s all the fuss about, and how can a book be both unreadable, and the best book ever written?

Professor Jeremy Robbins helps to explain this classic text.

Don Quixote: Can we ever have too much of a good thing? >

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Share your pictures of inspirational words on the street and in unexpected places which you love. Here’s how.

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Terry Gilliam set to light up Edinburgh

International filmmaker Terry Gilliam will reveal a 10-metre long illuminated neon quotation from Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote on Jeffrey Street in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town later this week, ahead of Valentine’s Day.

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