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Don Quixote Essay

1081 words - 4 pages

Anyone who reads Don Quixote for the first time inevitably has some
preconceptions about it, beginning with the dictionary def

MIGUEL DE CERVANTES SAAVEDRA was born in Alcala de Henares in Spain
near Madrid in 1547. Nothing is certainly known about his education,
but by the age of twenty-three, he enrolled in the army as a private
soldier. He was maimed for life in the battle of Lepanto and was taken
captive by the Moors on his way home in 1575. After five years of
slavery, he was ransomed; and two or three years later, he returned to
Spain. He settled in Madrid and began a moderately successful literary
career, in which he wrote poetry, published a pastoral romance, La
Galatea(1585), and had some twenty to thirty plays performed without,
as he puts it, “offerings of cucumbers or other throwable matter.”
Failing to attain financial success, he obtained an employment in the
Government office as a commissioner of food supplies for the Armada
expedition. He later became a tax collector, a position that he held
until 1597, when he was imprisoned for a shortage in his accounts due
to the dishonesty of an associate. The imprisonment on this occasion
lasted until the end of the year, and, after a period of obscurity, he
issued, in 1605, his masterpiece, El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de
La Mancha (The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha). Cervantes
confesses to having ‘engendered’ Don Quixote in the prison. Its
success was great and immediate, and its reputation soon spread beyond
Spain. The enthusiastic reception of Part І spurred him to unchecked
literary activity until his death- a gloriously creative old age in
which he completed Don Quixote Part ІІ (1615), his twelve Exemplary
Novels (1613), a collection of comedies and farces (1615), and a long
satiric fantasy in verse about contemporary poetry, The Voyage to
Parnassus(1614). Persiles and Sigismunda, a Byzantine romance, was
posthumously published in 1617. In this period, he lived in Madrid,
widely admired in the literary circles. Towards the end, the patronage
of the archbishop of Toledo and the Count of Lemos somewhat eased his
chronic poverty. Cervantes died in 1616. The moving prologue to
Persiles, written when Cervantes was in his deathbed, contains his
farewell to life, and specifically, to laughter and friends.

In April, 2005 people all over the world will be celebrating the
fourth centenary of the first publication of Don Quixote. Hailed as
the first modern novel in world literature it has been translated into
more than 60 languages and at the same time, owing to their widespread
representation in art, drama, and film, the figures of Don Quixote and
Sancho Panza are probably familiar visually to more people than any
other imaginary characters in world literature. Don Quixote has had a
tremendous influence on the development of prose fiction. The book
depicts the story of an idealistic Spanish nobleman from a village
somewhere in...

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