Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes

Overview
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (miˈɣel de θerˈβantes saˈβeðɾa; baptised
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 9 October 1547; died 23 April 1616) was a Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 novelist, poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

, and playwright
Playwright
A playwright, also called a dramatist, is a person who writes plays.The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder...

. His magnum opus
Magnum opus
Magnum opus , from the Latin meaning "great work", refers to the largest, and perhaps the best, greatest, most popular, or most renowned achievement of a writer, artist, or composer.-Related terms:Sometimes the term magnum opus is used to refer to simply "a great work" rather than "the...

, Don Quixote, considered the first modern novel
Modern novel
The first modern novel has generally been ascribed to a series of picaresque novels, most famously Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes....

, is a classic of Western literature
Western literature
Western literature refers to the literature written in the languages of Europe, including the ones belonging to the Indo-European language family as well as several geographically or historically related languages such as Basque, Hungarian, and so forth...

, and is regarded amongst the best works of fiction ever written. His influence on the Spanish language
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 has been so great that the language is often called la lengua de Cervantes ("the language of Cervantes").
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Miguel de Cervantes'
Start a new discussion about 'Miguel de Cervantes'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Quotations

A father may have a child who is ugly and lacking in all the graces, and the love he feels for him puts a blindfold over his eyes so that he does not see his defects but considers them signs of charm and intelligence and recounts them to his friends as if they were clever and witty.

Prologue

You are a king by your own fireside, as much as any monarch in his throne.

Prologue

I was so free with him as not to mince the matter.

Prologue

They can expect nothing but their labor for their pains.

Prologue

En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no hace mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.

In some village in La Mancha, whose name I do not care to recall, there dwelt not so long ago a gentleman of the type wont to keep an unused lance, an old shield, a skinny old horse, and a greyhound for racing.

Which I have earned with the sweat of my brows.

Part I, Book I, ch. 4 File:Honoré Daumier 017.jpg|144px|thumb|right|Can we ever have too much of a good thing?

By a small sample we may judge of the whole piece.

Part I, Book I, ch. 4

Put you in this pickle.

Part I, Book I, ch. 5

Can we ever have too much of a good thing?

Part I, Book I, ch. 6

The charging of his enemy was but the work of a moment.

Part I, Book I, ch. 8
Encyclopedia
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (miˈɣel de θerˈβantes saˈβeðɾa; baptised
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 9 October 1547; died 23 April 1616) was a Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 novelist, poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

, and playwright
Playwright
A playwright, also called a dramatist, is a person who writes plays.The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder...

. His magnum opus
Magnum opus
Magnum opus , from the Latin meaning "great work", refers to the largest, and perhaps the best, greatest, most popular, or most renowned achievement of a writer, artist, or composer.-Related terms:Sometimes the term magnum opus is used to refer to simply "a great work" rather than "the...

, Don Quixote, considered the first modern novel
Modern novel
The first modern novel has generally been ascribed to a series of picaresque novels, most famously Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes....

, is a classic of Western literature
Western literature
Western literature refers to the literature written in the languages of Europe, including the ones belonging to the Indo-European language family as well as several geographically or historically related languages such as Basque, Hungarian, and so forth...

, and is regarded amongst the best works of fiction ever written. His influence on the Spanish language
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 has been so great that the language is often called la lengua de Cervantes ("the language of Cervantes"). He was dubbed El Príncipe de los Ingenios ("The Prince of Wits").

Life


It is assumed that Miguel de Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henares
Alcalá de Henares
Alcalá de Henares , meaning Citadel on the river Henares, is a Spanish city, whose historical centre is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, and one of the first bishoprics founded in Spain...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. The exact date of his birth is not known, but it is probable that he was born on September 29, the feast day of Saint Michael the Archangel
Michael (archangel)
Michael , Micha'el or Mîkhā'ēl; , Mikhaḗl; or Míchaël; , Mīkhā'īl) is an archangel in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic teachings. Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans refer to him as Saint Michael the Archangel and also simply as Saint Michael...

, given the tradition to name a child with the name of the feast day of his birth. Cervantes was baptized in Alcalá de Henares on October 9, 1547, at the parish church of Santa María la Mayor. The baptismal act read:
His father was Rodrigo de Cervantes
Cervantes
-People:*Alfonso J. Cervantes , mayor of St. Louis, Missouri*Francisco Cervantes de Salazar, 16th-century man of letters*Ignacio Cervantes, Cuban composer*Jorge Cervantes, a world-renowned expert on indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse cannabis cultivation...

, a surgeon of Galician
Galician people
The Galicians are an ethnic group, a nationality whose historical homeland is Galicia in north-western Spain. Most Galicians are bilingual, speaking both their historic language, Galician, and Castilian Spanish.-Political and administrative divisions:...

 descent. At the time, a surgeon was not a medical doctor, but a lesser medical practitioner with no exact equivalent in modern English-speaking countries. His paternal grandfather, Juan de Cervantes, was an influential lawyer who held several administrative positions. His uncle was mayor of Cabra for many years. Little is known of his mother Leonor de Cortinas, except that she was a native of Arganda del Rey
Arganda del Rey
Arganda del Rey is a municipality in Madrid, Spain. It is connected to Madrid by metro line 9, underground.-History:The first definitive habitation in the area dates back to the Arabic presence in the Iberian Peninsula...

. His siblings were Andrés (1543), Andrea (1544), Luisa (1546), Rodrigo (1550), Magdalena (1554) and Juan - known solely because he is mentioned in his father's will.

Journey to Italy


In 1569, Cervantes moved to Castile
Castile
Castile is derived from a word meaning 'castle' and may refer to:-People:* Brooke Castile , American pairs figure skater* Javier Castilla , professional Colombian squash player* Simeon Castille , NFL cornerback...

, where he served as a valet
Valet
Valet and varlet are terms for male servants who serve as personal attendants to their employer.- Word origins :In the Middle Ages, the valet de chambre to a ruler was a prestigious appointment for young men...

 to Giulio Acquaviva, a wealthy priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 who was elevated to cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

 the next year. By then, Cervantes had enlisted as a soldier in a Spanish Navy infantry regiment and continued his military life until 1575, when he was captured by Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

n corsairs. He was then released on ransom
Ransom
Ransom is the practice of holding a prisoner or item to extort money or property to secure their release, or it can refer to the sum of money involved.In an early German law, a similar concept was called bad influence...

 from his captors by his parents and the Trinitarians, a Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 religious order
Religious order
A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of initiates and, in some...

. He subsequently returned to his family in Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

.

In 1585, Cervantes published a pastoral
Pastoral
The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...

 novel named La Galatea
La Galatea
La Galatea was Miguel de Cervantes’ first book, published in 1585.Under the guise of pastoral characters, it is an examination of love and contains many allusions to contemporary literary figures....

. Because of financial problems, Cervantes worked as a purveyor for the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

, and later as a tax collector
Tax collector
A tax collector is a person who collects unpaid taxes from other people or corporations. Tax collectors are often portrayed in fiction as being evil, and in the modern world share a somewhat similar stereotype to that of lawyers....

. In 1597, discrepancies in his accounts of three years previous landed him in the Crown Jail of Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

. In 1605, he was in Valladolid
Valladolid
Valladolid is a historic city and municipality in north-central Spain, situated at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers, and located within three wine-making regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Cigales...

, just when the immediate success of the first part of his Don Quixote, published in Madrid, signaled his return to the literary world. In 1607, he settled in Madrid, where he lived and worked until his death. During the last nine years of his life, Cervantes solidified his reputation as a writer; he published the Exemplary Novels (Novelas ejemplares) in 1613, the Journey to Parnassus
Viaje al Parnaso
Viaje al Parnaso is a poetic work by Miguel de Cervantes, generally rated as his second greatest work after the novel Don Quixote...

 (Viaje al Parnaso) in 1614, and in 1615, the Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses and the second part of Don Quixote. Carlos Fuentes
Carlos Fuentes
Carlos Fuentes Macías is a Mexican writer and one of the best-known living novelists and essayists in the Spanish-speaking world. He has influenced contemporary Latin American literature, and his works have been widely translated into English and other languages.-Biography:Fuentes was born in...

 noted that, "Cervantes leaves open the pages of a book where the reader knows himself to be written."

Military service and captivity



The reasons that forced Cervantes to leave Castile
Castile (historical region)
A former kingdom, Castile gradually merged with its neighbours to become the Crown of Castile and later the Kingdom of Spain when united with the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Navarre...

 remain uncertain. Whether he was a "student" of the same name, a "sword-wielding fugitive from justice", or fleeing from a royal warrant of arrest, for having wounded a certain Antonio de Sigura in a duel, is another mystery. In any event, in going to Italy, Cervantes was doing what many young Spanish of the time did to further their careers in one way or another. Rome would reveal to the young artist its ecclesiastic pomp, ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

, and majesty. In a city teeming with ruins Cervantes could focus his attention on Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 art, architecture, and poetry (knowledge of Italian literature
Italian literature
Italian literature is literature written in the Italian language, particularly within Italy. It may also refer to literature written by Italians or in Italy in other languages spoken in Italy, often languages that are closely related to modern Italian....

 is readily discernible in his own productions) and on rediscovering antiquity. He could find in the ancients "a powerful impetus to revive the contemporary world in light of its accomplishments".* F.A. de Armas, Quixotic Frescoes, 5 Thus, Cervantes' continuing desire for Italy, as revealed in his later works, was in part a desire for a return to an earlier period of the Renaissance.

By 1570, Cervantes had enlisted as a soldier in a regiment of the Spanish naval elite corps, Infantería de Marina
Infanteria de Marina
The Spanish Navy Marines is a corps within the Spanish Navy responsible for providing amphibious warfare from the sea utilizing naval platforms and resources...

, stationed in Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, then a possession of the Spanish crown. He was there for about a year before he saw active service. In September 1571 Cervantes sailed on board the Marquesa, part of the galley fleet of the Holy League
Holy League (Mediterranean)
The Holy League of 1571 was arranged by Pope St. Pius V and included almost all the major Catholic maritime states in the Mediterranean. It was intended to break the Ottoman Turks' control of the eastern Mediterranean Sea and was formally concluded on 25 May 1571...

 (a coalition of the Pope
Pope Pius V
Pope Saint Pius V , born Antonio Ghislieri , was Pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church. He is chiefly notable for his role in the Council of Trent, the Counter-Reformation, and the standardization of the Roman liturgy within the Latin Church...

, Spain, the Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

, the Republic of Genoa
Republic of Genoa
The Most Serene Republic of Genoa |Ligurian]]: Repúbrica de Zêna) was an independent state from 1005 to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italian coast, as well as Corsica from 1347 to 1768, and numerous other territories throughout the Mediterranean....

, the Duchy of Savoy
Duchy of Savoy
From 1416 to 1847, the House of Savoy ruled the eponymous Duchy of Savoy . The Duchy was a state in the northern part of the Italian Peninsula, with some territories that are now in France. It was a continuation of the County of Savoy...

, the Knights Hospitaller
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

 based in Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, and others, under the command of King Philip II's
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 illegitimate half brother, John of Austria) that defeated the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 fleet on October 7 in the Gulf of Lepanto
Battle of Lepanto (1571)
The Battle of Lepanto took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire in five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Patras, off western Greece...

 near Corinth, at great cost to both sides. Though taken down with fever, Cervantes refused to stay below, and begged to be allowed to take part in the battle, saying that he would rather die for his God and his king than keep under cover. He fought bravely on board a vessel, and received three gunshot wounds – two in the chest, and one which rendered his left arm useless. In Journey to Parnassus he was to say that he "had lost the movement of the left hand for the glory of the right" (he was thinking of the success of the first part of Don Quixote). Cervantes always looked back on his conduct in the battle with pride: he believed that he had taken part in an event that would shape the course of European history. Don Quixote Part II, "The Author's Preface" translated by John Ormsby
John Ormsby
John Ormsby was a nineteenth-century British translator. He is most famous for his 1885 English translation of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote de la Mancha, perhaps the most scholarly and accurate English translation of the novel up to that time...

)>
"What I cannot help taking amiss is that he charges me with being old and one-handed, as if it had been in my power to keep time from passing over me, or as if the loss of my hand had been brought about in some tavern, and not on the grandest occasion the past or present has seen, or the future can hope to see. If my wounds have no beauty to the beholder's eye, they are, at least, honourable in the estimation of those who know where they were received; for the soldier shows to greater advantage dead in battle than alive in flight."


After the Battle of Lepanto
Battle of Lepanto (1571)
The Battle of Lepanto took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire in five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Patras, off western Greece...

 Cervantes remained in hospital for around six months, before his wounds were sufficiently healed to allow his joining the colors again. From 1572 to 1575, based mainly in Naples, he continued his soldier's life: he participated in expeditions to Corfu
Corfu
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The...

 and Navarino
Pylos
Pylos , historically known under its Italian name Navarino, is a town and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Pylos-Nestoras, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It was the capital of the former...

, and saw the fall of Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

 and La Goletta to the Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

 in 1574.

On 6 or 7 September 1575 Cervantes set sail on the galley Sol from Naples to Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

, with letters of commendation to the king from the Duke of Sessa
Duque de Sessa
Duke of Sessa is a Spanish noble title awarded in 1507 to Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba y Herrera by Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand V of Castile. Its territorial designation refers to an Italian municipality....

. On the morning of September 26, as the Sol approached the Catalan coast, it was attacked by Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

n corsairs under the command of the redoubtable Arnaut Mami, an Albanian
Albanians
Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

 renegade and terror of the narrow seas at that time. After significant resistance, in which the captain and many crew members were killed, the surviving passengers were taken to Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

 as captives. After five years spent as a slave in Algiers, and four unsuccessful escape attempts, he was ransomed by his parents and the Trinitarians and returned to his family in Madrid. Not surprisingly, this period of Cervantes' life supplied subject matter for several of his literary works, notably the Captive's tale in Don Quixote and the two plays set in Algiers El Trato de Argel (The Treaty of Algiers) and Los Baños de Argel (The Baths of Algiers) as well as episodes in a number of other writings, although never in straight autobiographical form.

Literary pursuits



In Esquivias
Esquivias
Esquivias is a municipality located in the province of Toledo, Castile-La Mancha, Spain. According to the 2006 census , the municipality has a population of 4,812 inhabitants....

 (Province of Toledo), on 12 December 1584, he married the much younger Catalina de Salazar y Palacios (Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

, Esquivias
Esquivias
Esquivias is a municipality located in the province of Toledo, Castile-La Mancha, Spain. According to the 2006 census , the municipality has a population of 4,812 inhabitants....

 –, 31 October 1626), daughter of Fernando de Salazar y Vozmediano and Catalina de Palacios. Her uncle Alonso de Quesada y Salazar is said to have inspired the character of Don Quixote.
During the next 20 years Cervantes led a nomadic existence, working as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 and as a tax collector. He suffered a bankruptcy and was imprisoned at least twice (1597 and 1602) for irregularities in his accounts. Between 1596 and 1600, he lived primarily in Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

. In 1606, Cervantes settled in Madrid, where he remained for the rest of his life.

In 1585, Cervantes published his first major work, La Galatea, a pastoral romance, at the same time that some of his plays, now lost except for El Trato de Argel (wherein he dealt with the life of Christian slaves in Algiers) and El Cerco de Numancia were playing on the stages of Madrid. La Galatea received little contemporary notice; and Cervantes never wrote the continuation for it, which he repeatedly promised to do. Cervantes next turned his attention to drama, hoping to derive an income from that source, but the plays which he composed failed to achieve their purpose. Aside from his plays, his most ambitious work in verse was Viaje del Parnaso (1614) an allegory which consisted largely of a rather tedious though good-natured review of contemporary poets. Cervantes himself realized that he was deficient in poetic talent.

If a remark which Cervantes himself makes in the prologue of Don Quixote is to be taken literally, the idea of the work (though hardly the writing of its First Part, as some have maintained) occurred to him in prison at Argamasilla de Alba
Argamasilla de Alba
Argamasilla de Alba is a municipality in Ciudad Real , Castile-La Mancha, Spain. It has a population of 6,791.Cervantes was held prisoner here and refers to the place in the prologue to Don Quixote....

 in La Mancha. Cervantes' idea was to give a picture of real life and manners, and to express himself in clear language. The intrusion of everyday speech into a literary context was acclaimed by the reading public. The author stayed poor until 1605, when the first part of Don Quixote appeared. Although it did not make Cervantes rich, it brought him international appreciation as a man of letters.

The popularity of Don Quixote led to the publication of an unauthorized continuation of it by an unknown writer, who masqueraded under the name of Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda
Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda
In 1614 a sequel to Cervantes' Don Quixote was published under the pseudonym Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda. The identity of Fernández de Avellaneda has been the subject of many theories, but there is no consensus on who he was...

. Cervantes produced his own continuation, or Second Part, of Don Quixote, which made its appearance in 1615. He had promised the publication of a second part in 1613 in the foreword to the Novelas Ejemplares (Exemplary Novels), a year before the publication of Avellanda's book. Don Quixote has been regarded chiefly as a novel of purpose. It is stated again and again that he wrote it in order to satirize the romance of chivalry and to challenge the popularity of a form of literature that had been a favorite of the general public for more than a century.

Don Quixote certainly reveals much narrative power, considerable humor, a mastery of dialogue, and a forceful style. Of the two parts written by Cervantes, perhaps the first is the more popular with the general public containing the famous episodes of the tilting at windmills, the attack on the flock of sheep, the vigil in the courtyard of the inn, and the episode with the barber and the shaving basin. The second part shows more constructive insight, better delineation of character, improved style, and more realism and probability in its action.

In 1613, he published a collection of tales, the Exemplary Novels, some of which had been written earlier. On the whole, the Exemplary Novels are worthy of the fame of Cervantes. The picaroon
Picaresque novel
The picaresque novel is a popular sub-genre of prose fiction which is usually satirical and depicts, in realistic and often humorous detail, the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society...

 strain, already made familiar in Spain through the Picaresque novels of Lazarillo de Tormes
Lazarillo de Tormes
The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities is a Spanish novella, published anonymously because of its heretical content...

 and his successors, appears in one or another of them, especially in the Rinconete y Cortadillo. In 1614, he published the Viaje del Parnaso and in 1615, the Eight Comedies and Eight New Interludes. At the same time, Cervantes continued working on Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda
Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda
The Works of Persiles and Sigismunda is a romance or Byzantine novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, his last work and one that stands in opposition to the more famous novel Don Quixote by its embrace of the fantastic rather than the commonplace...

, a novel of adventurous travel
Byzantine novel
The Byzantine novel represents a revival of the ancient Greek romance of Roman times. Works in this category were written by Byzantine Greeks of the Eastern Roman Empire during the 12th century.-History:...

, completed just before his death, and appearing posthumously in January 1617.

Death


Cervantes died in Madrid on April 23, 1616. To honor the date that both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 died, UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 established April 23 as the International Day of the Book. However, Shakespeare and Cervantes died on different days: Shakespeare on April 23, 1616 of the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 that was used in England and Cervantes April 23, 1616 of the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 that was used in Spain. Since the Gregorian calendar was ten days ahead of the Julian, Cervantes actually died ten days earlier than Shakespeare, whose date of death according to the Gregorian calendar was May 3, 1616.

The Encyclopedia Hispanica claims that the date widely quoted as Cervantes' date of death, April 23, is actually the date on his tombstone, a completely erroneous statement due to the fact that his actual grave is lost and there apparently is no tombstone. In accordance with the traditions of the time, this date would be the date of his burial rather than the date of his death.

Of his burial-place nothing is known, except that he was buried, in accordance with his will, in the neighboring convent of Trinitarian nuns. Isabel de Saavedra, Cervantes daughter, was supposedly a member of this convent. A few years afterwards the nuns moved to another convent and carried their dead with them. Whether the remains of Cervantes were included in the removal or not no one knows, and the clue to their final resting place is now lost.

Works

  • El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (1605): First volume of Don Quixote.
  • Novelas Ejemplares (1613): a collection of twelve short stories of varied types about the social, political, and historical problems of Cervantes' Spain:
    • La Gitanilla (The Gypsy Girl)
    • El Amante Liberal (The Generous Lover)
    • Rinconete y Cortadillo (Rinconete & Cortadillo)
    • La Española Inglesa (The English Spanish Lady)
    • El Licenciado Vidriera (The Lawyer of Glass)
    • La Fuerza de la Sangre (The Power of Blood)
    • El Celoso Extremeño (The Jealous Man From Extremadura)
    • La Ilustre Fregona (The Illustrious Kitchen-Maid)
    • Novela de las Dos Doncellas (The Novel of the Two Damsels)
    • Novela de la Señora Cornelia (The Novel of Lady Cornelia)
    • Novela del Casamiento Engañoso (The Novel of the Deceitful Marriage)
    • El Coloquio de los Perros (The Dialogue of the Dogs)
  • Segunda Parte del Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (1615): Second volume of Don Quixote.
  • Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda
    Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda
    The Works of Persiles and Sigismunda is a romance or Byzantine novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, his last work and one that stands in opposition to the more famous novel Don Quixote by its embrace of the fantastic rather than the commonplace...

     (1617). Persiles, as it is commonly known, is the best evidence not only of the survival of Byzantine novel
    Byzantine novel
    The Byzantine novel represents a revival of the ancient Greek romance of Roman times. Works in this category were written by Byzantine Greeks of the Eastern Roman Empire during the 12th century.-History:...

     themes but also of the survival of forms and ideas of the Spanish novel of the second Renaissance
    Renaissance
    The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

    . In this work, published after the author's death, Cervantes relates the ideal love and unbelievable vicissitudes of a couple, who, starting from the Arctic regions, arrive in Rome, where they find a happy ending to their complicated adventure.

  • La Galatea
    La Galatea
    La Galatea was Miguel de Cervantes’ first book, published in 1585.Under the guise of pastoral characters, it is an examination of love and contains many allusions to contemporary literary figures....

    , the pastoral
    Pastoral
    The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...

     romance, which Cervantes wrote in his youth, is an imitation of the Diana of Jorge de Montemayor
    Jorge de Montemayor
    Jorge de Montemayor was a Portuguese novelist and poet, who wrote almost exclusively in Spanish.-Biography:He was born at Montemor-o-Velho , whence he derived his name, the Spanish form of which is Montemayor....

     and bears an even closer resemblance to Gil Polo's continuation of that romance. Next to Don Quixote and the Novelas Ejemplares, it is particularly worthy of attention, as it manifests in a striking way the poetic direction in which the genius of Cervantes moved even at an early period of life.

Don Quixote


Don Quixote (spelled "Quijote" in modern Spanish) is two separate volumes now nearly always published as one, that cover the adventures of Don Quixote, also known as the knight or man of La Mancha
La Mancha
La Mancha is a natural and historical region or greater comarca located on an arid, fertile, elevated plateau of central Spain, south of Madrid, stretching between the Montes de Toledo and the western spurs of the Serrania de Cuenca. It is bounded on the south by the Sierra Morena and on the north...

, a hero who carries his enthusiasm and self-deception to unintentional and comic ends. On one level, Don Quixote works as a satire
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 of the romances of chivalry
Chivalry
Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

, which ruled the literary environment of Cervantes' time. However, the novel also allows Cervantes to illuminate various aspects of human nature, by using the ridiculous example of the delusional Quixote. Because the novel, particularly the first part, was written in individually published sections, the composition includes several incongruities. Cervantes himself however pointed out some of these errors in the preface to the second part; but he disdained to correct them, because he conceived that they had been too severely condemned by his critics.
Cervantes felt a passion for the vivid painting of character. Don Quixote is noble-minded, an enthusiastic admirer of everything good and great, yet having all these fine qualities accidentally blended with a relative kind of madness. He is paired with a character of opposite qualities, Sancho Panza
Sancho Panza
Sancho Panza is a fictional character in the novel Don Quixote written by Spanish author Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra in 1605. Sancho acts as squire to Don Quixote, and provides comments throughout the novel, known as sanchismos, that are a combination of broad humour, ironic Spanish proverbs,...

, a man of low self-esteem, who is a compound of grossness and simplicity.

Don Quixote is cited as the first classic model of the modern romance or novel, and it has served as the prototype of the comic novel. The humorous situations are mostly burlesque, and it includes satire. Don Quixote is one of the Encyclopædia Britannica's Great Books of the Western World
Great Books of the Western World
Great Books of the Western World is a series of books originally published in the United States in 1952 by Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. to present the western canon in a single package of 54 volumes. The series is now in its second edition and contains 60 volumes.-History:The project got its start...

, and the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky called it "the ultimate and most sublime work of human thinking". It is also in "Don Quixote" that Miguel de Cervantes first coined the popular phrase "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" (por la muestra se conoce el paño), which still sees heavy use in the shortened form of "the proof is in the pudding", and "who walks much and reads much, knows much and sees much" (quien anda mucho y lee mucho, sabe mucho y ve mucho).

Novelas Ejemplares


It would be scarcely possible to arrange the other works of Cervantes according to a critical judgment of their importance, for the merits of some consist in the admirable finish of the whole, while others exhibit the impress of genius in the invention, or some other individual feature.
A distinguished place belongs to the Novelas Ejemplares ("Moral or Instructive Tales"). They are unequal in merit as well as in character. Cervantes doubtless intended that they should be to Spanish nearly what the novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

s of Boccaccio
Giovanni Boccaccio
Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian author and poet, a friend, student, and correspondent of Petrarch, an important Renaissance humanist and the author of a number of notable works including the Decameron, On Famous Women, and his poetry in the Italian vernacular...

 were to Italians. Some are mere anecdotes, some are romances in miniature, some are serious, some comic; all are written in a light, smooth, conversational style.

Four novelas are perhaps of less interest than the rest: El Amante Liberal, La Señora Cornelia, Las Dos Doncellas, and La Española Inglesa. The theme common to these is basically the traditional one of the Byzantine novel
Byzantine novel
The Byzantine novel represents a revival of the ancient Greek romance of Roman times. Works in this category were written by Byzantine Greeks of the Eastern Roman Empire during the 12th century.-History:...

: pairs of lovers separated by lamentable and complicated happenings are finally reunited and find the happiness they have longed for. The heroines are all of most perfect beauty and of sublime morality; they and their lovers are capable of the highest sacrifices; and they exert their souls in the effort to elevate themselves to the ideal of moral and aristocratic distinction which illuminates their lives.
In El Amante Liberal, to cite an example, the beautiful Leonisa and her lover Ricardo are carried off by Turkish pirates. Both fight against serious material and moral dangers. Ricardo conquers all obstacles, returns to his homeland with Leonisa, and is ready to renounce his passion and to hand Leonisa over to her former lover in an outburst of generosity; but Leonisa's preference naturally settles on Ricardo in the end.

Another group of "exemplary" novels is formed by La Fuerza de la Sangre, La Ilustre Fregona, La Gitanilla, and El Celoso Extremeño. The first three offer examples of love and adventure happily resolved, while the last unravels itself tragically. Its plot deals with the old Felipe Carrizales, who, after traveling widely and becoming rich in America, decides to marry, taking all the precautions necessary to forestall being deceived. He weds a very young girl and isolates her from the world, by having her live in a house with no windows facing the street. But in spite of his defensive measures, a bold youth succeeds in penetrating the fortress of conjugal honour; and one day Carrizales surprises his wife in the arms of her seducer. Surprisingly enough he pardons the adulterers, recognizing that he is more to blame than they, and dies of sorrow over the grievous error he has committed. Cervantes here deviated from literary tradition, which demanded the death of the adulterers; but he transformed the punishment inspired, or rather required, by the social ideal of honour
Honour
Honour or honor is an abstract concept entailing a perceived quality of worthiness and respectability that affects both the social standing and the self-evaluation of an individual or corporate body such as a family, school, regiment or nation...

 into a criticism of the responsibility of the individual.
Rinconete y Cortadillo, El Casamiento Engañoso, El Licenciado Vidriera, and El Coloquio de los Perros, four works of art which are concerned more with the personalities of the characters who figure in them than with the subject matter, form the final group of these stories. The protagonists are, respectively, two young vagabonds, Rincón and Cortado, Lieutenant Campuzano, a student Tomás Rodaja (who goes mad and believes himself to have been changed into a witty man of glass, offering Cervantes the opportunity to make profound observations) and finally two dogs, Cipión and Berganza, whose wandering existence serves to mirror the most varied aspects of Spanish life. El colloquio de los perros features even more sardonic observations on the Spanish society of the time.

Rinconete y Cortadillo is one of the most delightful of Cervantes' works. Its two young vagabonds come to Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

, attracted by the riches and disorder that the sixteenth-century commerce with the Americas had brought to that metropolis. There they come into contact with a brotherhood of thieves, the Thieves' Guild
Thieves' Guild
A thieves' guild is an association of criminals who participate in theft-related organized crime, usually in a fictional context. A thieves' guild is a common feature of old-fashioned urban locations in various types of fiction.-Depictions:...

, led by the unforgettable Monipodio, whose house is the headquarters of the Sevillian underworld. Under the bright Andalusian sky, people and objects take form with the brilliance and subtle drama of a Velázquez
Diego Velázquez
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary Baroque period, important as a portrait artist...

. A distant and discreet irony endows the figures, insignificant in themselves, as they move within a ritual pomp that is in sharp contrast with their morally deflated lives. The solemn ritual of this band of ruffians is all the more comic for being presented in Cervantes' drily humorous style.

Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda



Cervantes finished the romance of Persiles and Sigismunda, shortly before his death. The language and composition of the story exhibit simplicity combined with precision. The idea of this romance was not new and Cervantes appears to imitate Heliodorus
Heliodorus
-People:Several persons named Heliodorus are known to us from ancient times, the best known of which are:*Heliodorus a minister of Seleucus IV Philopator ca...

. The work is a romantic description of travels, both by sea and land. Real and fabulous geography and history are mixed together; and in the second half of the romance the scene is transferred to Spain and Italy.

Professor Michael Nerlich, in his work "El Persiles descodificado o la Divina Comedia de Cervantes" (Hiperión 2005, 757 pages), details how the Persiles is "a historic-philosophical condenm of the counter-reformist Catholic Church and of the spanish monarchy, then aligned with the former (...)".

Nerlich explains that Cervantes used a easily decipherable code for the average reader in his time, in a way the Spanish Inquisition would not censor his work, as the reader would understand clearly his criticism, which would prove how it became instantly famous, yet misunderstood as years rolled by. Nerlich’s work, since published, has not been rebutted as yet.

Poetry


Some of his poems are found in La Galatea
La Galatea
La Galatea was Miguel de Cervantes’ first book, published in 1585.Under the guise of pastoral characters, it is an examination of love and contains many allusions to contemporary literary figures....

. He also wrote Dos Canciones à la Armada Invencible. His best work however is found in the sonnets, particularly Al Túmulo del Rey Felipe en Sevilla. Among his most important poems, Canto de Calíope, Epístola a Mateo Vázquez, and the Viaje del Parnaso (Journey to Parnassus 1614) stand out. The latter is his most ambitious work in verse, an allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 which consists largely of reviews of contemporary poets.
Compared to his ability as a novelist, Cervantes is often considered a mediocre poet, although he himself always harbored a hope that he would be recognized for having poetic gifts.

Viaje del Parnaso



The prose of the Galatea, which is in other respects so beautiful, is occasionally overloaded with epithet. Cervantes displays a totally different kind of poetic talent in the Viaje del Parnaso, a work which cannot properly be ranked in any particular class of literary composition, but which, next to Don Quixote, is considered by a few the most exquisite production of its author. Many critics, however, would argue with that, citing the Novelas Ejemplares and the Entemeses as the finest examples of his work next to Don Quixote.

Plays


Comparisons have diminished the reputation of his plays; but two of them (El Trato de Argel and La Numancia
La Numancia
The Siege of Numantia is a tragedy by Miguel de Cervantes set at the siege of Numantia. In terms of its dramatic composition, the play conforms to no rules save those that the author prescribed for himself; Cervantes felt no inclination to imitate the Greek forms. The play is divided into four...

1582) made a big impact and were not surpassed until Lope de Vega
Lope de Vega
Félix Arturo Lope de Vega y Carpio was a Spanish playwright and poet. He was one of the key figures in the Spanish Golden Century Baroque literature...

 appeared.
The first of these, El Trato de Argel, is written in five acts. Based on his experiences as a captive of the Moors, the play deals with the life of Christian slaves in Algiers. The other play, Numancia, is a description of the siege of Numantia by the Romans. It is stuffed with horrors, and has been described as utterly devoid of the requisites of dramatic art. Cervantes's later production consists of 16 dramatic works, among which are eight full-length plays:
  • El Gallardo Español (1615),
  • Los Baños de Argel (1615),
  • La Gran Sultana, Doña Catalina de Oviedo (1615),
  • La Casa de los Celos (1615),
  • El Laberinto de Amor (1615),
  • La Entretenida, a cloak and dagger play, (1615)
  • El Rufián Dichoso (1615),
  • Pedro de Urdemalas (1615), a sensitive play about a picaro, who joins a group of Gypsies for love of a girl.


He also wrote eight short farces (entremeses) (1615):
  • El Juez de los Divorcios,
  • El Rufián Viudo Llamado Trampagos,
  • La Elección de los Alcaldes de Daganzo,
  • La Guarda Cuidadosa (The Vigilant Sentinel),
  • El Vizcaíno Fingido,
  • El Retablo de las Maravillas,
  • La Cueva de Salamanca, and El Viejo Celoso (The Jealous Old Man).


These plays and entremeses made up Ocho Comedias y Ocho Entremeses Nuevos, Nunca Representados (Eight Comedies and Eight New Interludes, Never Before Acted) which appeared in 1615. Cervantes' entremeses, whose dates and order of composition are not known, must not have been performed in their time. Faithful to the spirit of Lope de Rueda, Cervantes endowed them with novelistic elements, such as simplified plot, the type of description normally associated with the novel, and character development. The dialogue is sensitive and agile.
Cervantes includes some of his dramas among those productions with which he was himself most satisfied, and he seems to have regarded them with self-complacency in proportion to their neglect by the public. This conduct has sometimes been attributed to a spirit of contradiction and sometimes to vanity. That the penetrating and profound Cervantes should have so mistaken the limits of his dramatic talent would not be sufficiently accounted for had he not unquestionably proved by his tragedy of Numantia how pardonable was the self-deception of which he could not divest himself.

Cervantes was entitled to consider himself endowed with a genius for dramatic poetry; but he could not preserve his independence in the conflict that he had to maintain with the Spanish public, who required certain conditions of dramatic composition; and when he sacrificed his independence, and submitted to rules imposed by others, his invention and language were reduced to the level of a poet of inferior talent. The intrigues, adventures, and surprises, which in that age characterized the Spanish drama (and which, we may assume, characterize all drama in every age) were ill suited to the genius of Cervantes. His natural style was too profound and precise to be reconciled to fantastical ideas, expressed in irregular verse; but he was Spanish enough to be gratified with dramas which as a poet he could not imitate; and he imagined himself capable of imitating them, because he would have shone in another species of dramatic composition had the public taste accommodated itself to his genius.

La Numancia


This play is a dramatization of the long and brutal siege of the Celtiberian
Celtiberians
The Celtiberians were Celtic-speaking people of the Iberian Peninsula in the final centuries BC. The group used the Celtic Celtiberian language.Archaeologically, the Celtiberians participated in the Hallstatt culture in what is now north-central Spain...

 town Numantia, Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

, by the Roman forces of Scipio Africanus
Scipio Africanus
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus , also known as Scipio Africanus and Scipio the Elder, was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic...

.
Cervantes invented, along with the subject of his piece, a peculiar style of tragic composition; and, in doing so, he did not pay much regard to the theory of Aristotle. His object was to produce a piece full of tragic situations, combined with the charm of the marvellous. In order to accomplish this goal, Cervantes relied heavily on allegory and on mythological elements.
The tragedy is written in conformity with no rules, save those which the author prescribed for himself, for he felt no inclination to imitate the Greek forms. The play is divided into four acts, jornadas; and no chorus is introduced. The dialogue is sometimes in tercets, and sometimes in redondillas, and for the most part in octaves without any regard to rule.

Legacy



Cervantes' novel Don Quixote has had a tremendous influence on the development of prose fiction. It has been translated into all major languages and has appeared in 700 editions. The first translation was in English, made by Thomas Shelton in 1608, but not published until 1612. Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 had evidently read Don Quixote, but it is most unlikely that Cervantes had ever heard of Shakespeare.

Carlos Fuentes
Carlos Fuentes
Carlos Fuentes Macías is a Mexican writer and one of the best-known living novelists and essayists in the Spanish-speaking world. He has influenced contemporary Latin American literature, and his works have been widely translated into English and other languages.-Biography:Fuentes was born in...

 raised the possibility that Cervantes and Shakespeare were the same person, in the sense that Homer, Dante, Defoe, Dickens, Balzac, and Joyce are all the same writer whose spirit wanders through the centuries. Francis Carr, who is a noted promoter of conspiracy theories such as the one that Mozart was poisoned by his wife Constanze and a lover of hers, took Fuentes' statement literally and suggested that Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

 wrote Shakespeare's plays and Don Quixote, both claims which are considered ridiculous by mainstream scholars and critics. Shelton renders some Spanish idioms into English so literally that they sound nonsensical when translated — as an example he always translates the word dedos as fingers, not realizing that dedos can also mean inches. (In the original Spanish, for instance, a phrase such as una altura de quince dedos, which makes perfect sense in Spanish, would mean fifteen inches high in English, but a translator who renders it too literally would translate it as fifteen fingers high.)

Don Quixote has been the subject of a variety of works in other fields of art, including operas by the Italian composer Giovanni Paisiello
Giovanni Paisiello
Giovanni Paisiello was an Italian composer of the Classical era.-Life:Paisiello was born at Taranto and educated by the Jesuits there. He became known for his beautiful singing voice and in 1754 was sent to the Conservatorio di S. Onofrio at Naples, where he studied under Francesco Durante, and...

, the French Jules Massenet
Jules Massenet
Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet was a French composer best known for his operas. His compositions were very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and he ranks as one of the greatest melodists of his era. Soon after his death, Massenet's style went out of fashion, and many of his operas...

, and the Spanish Manuel de Falla
Manuel de Falla
Manuel de Falla y Matheu was a Spanish Andalusian composer of classical music. With Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados and Joaquín Turina he is one of Spain's most important musicians of the first half of the 20th century....

, a Russian ballet by the Russian-German composer Ludwig Minkus
Ludwig Minkus
Ludwig Minkus a.k.a. Léon Fyodorovich Minkus was an Austrian composer of ballet music, a violin virtuoso and teacher.Minkus is most noted for the music he composed while serving as Ballet Composer of the St...

, a tone poem by the German composer Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

, a German film (1933) directed by G. W. Pabst, a Soviet film (1957) directed by Grigori Kozintsev
Grigori Kozintsev
Grigori Mikhaylovich Kozintsev was a Jewish Ukrainian, Soviet Russian theatre and film director. He was named People's Artist of the USSR in 1964.He studied in the Imperial Academy of Arts...

, a 1965 ballet (no relation to the one by Minkus) with choreography by George Balanchine
George Balanchine
George Balanchine , born Giorgi Balanchivadze in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to a Georgian father and a Russian mother, was one of the 20th century's most famous choreographers, a developer of ballet in the United States, co-founder and balletmaster of New York City Ballet...

, an American musical Man of La Mancha
Man of La Mancha
Man of La Mancha is a musical with a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh. It is adapted from Wasserman's non-musical 1959 teleplay I, Don Quixote, which was in turn inspired by Miguel de Cervantes's seventeenth century masterpiece Don Quixote...

 (1965) by Dale Wasserman
Dale Wasserman
Dale Wasserman was an American playwright. -Early life:Dale Wasserman was born in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and was orphaned at the age of nine. He lived in a state orphanage and with an older brother in South Dakota before he "hit the rails". He later said:-Career:Wasserman worked in various...

, Mitch Leigh
Mitch Leigh
Mitch Leigh is an American musical theatre composer and theatrical producer best known for the musical Man Of La Mancha.-Biography:Leigh was born in Brooklyn, New York) as Irwin Michnick...

, and Joe Darion
Joe Darion
Joe Darion, was an American musical theatre lyricist, most famous for Man of La Mancha.Darion was born in New York City and died in Lebanon, New Hampshire.-External links:* at the Internet Broadway Database...

. which was made into a film in 1972, directed by Arthur Hiller
Arthur Hiller
Arthur Hiller, OC is a Canadian film director. His filmography includes 33 major studio releases, including the 1970 film Love Story...

, and a song by Brazilian tropicalia-pioneers Os Mutantes
Os Mutantes
Os Mutantes ) are an influential Brazilian psychedelic rock band that were linked with the Tropicália movement of the late 1960s. It was formed by two brothers and a vocalist, but has gone through numerous personnel changes throughout its existence...

.
Don Quixotes influence can be seen in the work of Smollett
Tobias Smollett
Tobias George Smollett was a Scottish poet and author. He was best known for his picaresque novels, such as The Adventures of Roderick Random and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle , which influenced later novelists such as Charles Dickens.-Life:Smollett was born at Dalquhurn, now part of Renton,...

, Defoe
Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe , born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, and pamphleteer, who gained fame for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest proponents of the novel, as he helped to popularise the form in Britain and along with others such as Richardson,...

, Fielding
Henry Fielding
Henry Fielding was an English novelist and dramatist known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess, and as the author of the novel Tom Jones....

, and Sterne
Laurence Sterne
Laurence Sterne was an Irish novelist and an Anglican clergyman. He is best known for his novels The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, and A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy; but he also published many sermons, wrote memoirs, and was involved in local politics...

, as well as in the classic 19th-century novelists Scott, Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

, Flaubert
Gustave Flaubert
Gustave Flaubert was a French writer who is counted among the greatest Western novelists. He is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary , and for his scrupulous devotion to his art and style.-Early life and education:Flaubert was born on December 12, 1821, in Rouen,...

, Melville
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

, Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

, and Dostoevsky
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer of novels, short stories and essays. He is best known for his novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov....

, and in the 20th -century works of James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

, Giannina Braschi
Giannina Braschi
Giannina Braschi is a Puerto Rican writer. She is credited with writing the first Spanglish novel YO-YO BOING! and the poetry trilogy Empire of Dreams , which chronicles the Latin American immigrant's experiences in the United States...

, and Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

. The theme of the novel also inspired the 19th-century French artists Honoré Daumier
Honoré Daumier
Honoré Daumier was a French printmaker, caricaturist, painter, and sculptor, whose many works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century....

 and Gustave Doré
Gustave Doré
Paul Gustave Doré was a French artist, engraver, illustrator and sculptor. Doré worked primarily with wood engraving and steel engraving.-Biography:...

.

The Euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 coins of €0.10, €0.20, and €0.50 made for Spain bear the portrait and signature of Cervantes.
The Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes
Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes
The Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes is a large-scale digital library project, hosted and maintained by the University of Alicante in Alicante, Spain. It comprises the largest open-access repository of digitised Spanish-language historical texts and literature from the Ibero-American world...

, a digital library
Digital library
A digital library is a library in which collections are stored in digital formats and accessible by computers. The digital content may be stored locally, or accessed remotely via computer networks...

, hosted by the university of Alicante
University of Alicante
The University of Alicante was established in 1979 on the basis of the Center for University Studies , which was founded in 1968. The University main campus is located in San Vicente del Raspeig/Sant Vicent del Raspeig, bordering the city of Alicante to the north...

, the largest digital archive of Spanish-language historical and literary works in the world, is named after Cervantes.

Ethnic and religious heritage


There is ongoing debate over Cervantes' family origins. While it was long assumed that Cervantes was an Old Christian
Old Christian
Old Christian was a social and law-effective category used in the Iberian Peninsula from the late 15th and early 16th century onwards, to distinguish Portuguese and Spanish people attested as having cleanliness of blood from the populations categorized as New Christian, mainly persons of partial...

, many modern scholars have suggested that he may have descended from a so-called converso
New Christian
New Christian was a term used to refer to Iberian Jews and Muslims who converted to Roman Catholicism, and their known baptized descendants. The term was introduced by the Old Christians of Iberia who wanted to distinguish themselves from the conversos...

 background.

Advocates of the New Christian theory, first set forth by Américo Castro
Americo Castro
Américo Castro y Quesada was a Spanish cultural historian, philologist, and literary critic who challenged some of the prevailing notions of Spanish identity, raising heated controversy with his conclusions that Spaniards didn't become the distinct group they are today until after the Islamic...

, often suggest Cervantes' mother was a converso. The theory is almost exclusively supported by circumstantial evidence, but would explain some mysteries of Cervantes' life. It has been supported by authors such as Anthony Cascardi and Canavaggio. Others, such as Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz
Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz y Menduiña
Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz y Menduiña was an eminent Spanish medieval historian, statesman, and a leader of the Spanish Republican government in Exile during the rule of Francisco Franco.- Education and Early Career :...

 (or Francisco Olmos Garcia, who considers it a "tired issue" and only supported by Américo Castro) reject the theory strongly.

Further information



  • Miguel de Cervantes (Modern Critical Views) / ed. Harold Bloom., 2005
  • Cervantes' Don Quixote: a casebook / ed. Roberto González Echevarría., 2005
  • The Cambridge companion to Cervantes / ed. Anthony J Cascardi., 2002
  • Cervantes's Don Quixote (Modern Critical Interpretations) / ed. Harold Bloom., 2001
  • Critical essays on Cervantes / ed. Ruth S El Saffar., 1986
  • Cervantes; a collection of critical essays / ed. Lowry Nelson., 1969
  • 'Cinco personajes fugaces en el camino de Don Quijote' / autora Giannina Braschi; Cuadernos hispanoamericanos, ISSN 0011-250X, Nº 328, 1977, pags. 101-115.
  • Frederick A. de Armas, Quixotic Frescoes: Cervantes and Italian Renaissance Art Book online


Online sources


Translator's Preface About Cervantes And Don Quixote
| work = The University of Adelaide Library
| last = Ormsby
| first = John
| url = http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/c/cervantes/c41d/preface1.html
| accessdate = 2007-01-02
}} April 23, 2006
| work = United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
| url = http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php-URL_ID=5125&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
| accessdate = 2006-10-17
}}

External links