Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) was a Spanish novelist, playwright, and poet, best known as the creator of Don Quixote, the most famous figure in Spanish literature. Although Cervantes's reputation rests almost entirely on his portrait of the gaunt country gentleman, his literary production was considerable. Shakespeare, Cervantes's great contemporary, had evidently read Don Quixote, but it is most unlikely that Cervantes had ever heard of Shakespeare. Cervantes lived an unsettled life of...See more
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) was a Spanish novelist, playwright, and poet, best known as the creator of Don Quixote, the most famous figure in Spanish literature. Although Cervantes's reputation rests almost entirely on his portrait of the gaunt country gentleman, his literary production was considerable. Shakespeare, Cervantes's great contemporary, had evidently read Don Quixote, but it is most unlikely that Cervantes had ever heard of Shakespeare. Cervantes lived an unsettled life of hardship and adventure. He was born in Alcala de Henares, a town near Madrid, into a family of the minor nobility in 1547. His father was a doctor, and much of his childhood was spent moving from town to town while his father sought work. After studying in Madrid, he went to Rome in the service of Guilio Acquavita. In 1570, he became a soldier and took part in the sea battle at Lepanto, during which he received a wound that permanently maimed his left hand. Cervantes was extremely proud of his role in the famous victory and of the nickname he earned, el manco de Lepanto. In 1575, Cervantes set out with his brother Rodrigo on the galley El Sol for Spain. The ship was captured by the Turks and the brothers were taken to Algiers as slaves. Cervantes spent five years as a slave until his family could raise enough money to pay his ransom. Cervantes was released in 1580, and after his return to Madrid he held several temporary administrative posts. In 1584, he married Catalina de Salazar y Palacios. During the next twenty years, he led a nomadic existence, also working as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada and as a tax collector. He suffered a bankruptcy and was imprisoned at least twice because of fiscal irregularities. Between the years 1596 and 1600, he lived primarily in Seville. In 1606, Cervantes settled permanently in Madrid, where he remained the rest of his life. He died on April 23, 1616. Cervantes started his literary career in Andalusia in 1580. His first major work was the Galatea, a pastoral romance. It received little contemporary notice, and Cervantes never wrote the continuation for it, which he repeatedly promised. In his play El Trato de Argel, he dealt with the life of Christian slaves in Algiers. Aside from his plays, his most ambitious work in verse was Viaje del Parnaso, an allegory consisting largely of rather tedious though good-natured reviews of contemporary poets. Cervantes himself realized that he was deficient in poetic gifts. Later generations have considered him one of the world's worst poets. Tradition maintains that Cervantes wrote Don Quixote in prison at Argamasilla in La Mancha. Cervantes's 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. See less
Alibris, the Alibris logo, and Alibris.com are registered trademarks of Alibris, Inc.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.