The Ingenious Gentleman M. Cervantes Saavedra,…”The Haves and The Have-nots”

“To be prepared is half the victory”.  Miguel de Cervantes

“The knowledge of yourself will preserve you from vanity”. Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (29 September 1547 – 23 April 1616) was a Spanish novelist, poet and playwright. He is best known for his novel Don Quixote, or Don Quijote de la Mancha, which is considered by many to be the first modern novel, one of the greatest works in Western literature, and the greatest of the Spanish language.

In 1569, Cervantes moved to Rome where he worked as chamber assistant of Giulio Acquaviva, a wealthy priest who became a cardinal during the following 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 Algerian corsairs.

“Liberty, as well as honor, man ought to preserve at the hazard of his life, for without it life is insupportable”. Miguel de Cervantes

After five years of slavery he was released on ransom from his captors by his parents and the Trinitarians, a Catholic religious order. He subsequently returned to his family in Madrid.

For a man to attain to an eminent degree in learning costs him time, watching, hunger, nakedness, dizziness in the head, weakness in the stomach, and other inconveniences”. Miguel de Cervantes

In 1585, Cervantes published a pastoral novel named La Galatea. Because of financial problems, Cervantes worked as a purveyor for the Spanish Armada, and later as a tax collector. In 1597, discrepancies in his accounts of three years previous landed him in the Crown Jail of Seville. In 1605, he was in Valladolid, just when the immediate success of the first part of his Don Quixote, published in Madrid, signaled his return to the literary world.

“He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he that loses his courage loses all”.  Miguel de Cervantes

During the last nine years of his life, Cervantes solidified his reputation as a writer; he published the Novelas ejemplares (Exemplary Novels) in 1613, the Journey to Parnassus (Viaje al Parnaso) in 1614, and in 1615, the Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses and the second part of Don Quixote.  In 1607, he settled in Madrid, where he lived and worked until his death.

“Well, there’s a remedy for all things but death, which will be sure to lay us flat one time or other”. Miguel de Cervantes

“There are only two families in the world, my old grandmother used to say, the Haves and the Have-nots”.  Miguel de Cervantes

The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha

 

“ When I first started reading the Quixote I thought it was the most tragic book in the world, and I would read it and weep… As I grew older…my skin grew thicker… and so when I was working on the translation I was actually sitting at my computer and laughing out loud. This is done… as Cervantes did it… by never letting the reader rest. You are never certain that you truly got it. Because as soon as you think you understand something, Cervantes introduces something that contradicts your premise.” Edith Grossman

 

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, a hero who carries his enthusiasm and self-deception to unintentional and comic ends. On one level, Don Quixote works as a satire of the romances of chivalry, which, though still popular in Cervantes’ time, had become an object of ridicule among more demanding critics.

The choice of a madman as hero also served a critical purpose, for it was “the impression of ill-being or ‘in-sanity,’ rather than a finding of dementia or psychosis in clinical terms, that defined the madman for Cervantes and his contemporaries.” Indeed, the concept of madness was “associated with physical or moral displacement, as may be seen in the literal and figurative sense of the adjectives eccentric, extravagant, deviant, aberrant, etc.”

“Too much sanity may be madness and the maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be”. Miguel de Cervantes

The novel also allows Cervantes to illuminate various aspects of human nature. 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, a man of low self-esteem, who is a compound of grossness and simplicity.

“A private sin is not so prejudicial in this world, as a public indecency“.  Miguel de Cervantes

Pressured into finding Dulcinea, Sancho brings back three dirty and ragged peasant girls, and tells Don Quixote that they are Dulcinea and her ladies-in-waiting.

“That’s the nature of women, not to love when we love them, and to love when we love them not”. Miguel de Cervantes

“Such was the end of the Ingenious Gentlemen of La Mancha, whose village Cide Hamete would not indicate precisely, in order to leave all the towns and villages of La Mancha to contend among themselves for the right to adopt him and claim him as a son, as the seven cities of Greece contended for Homer”. —Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Volume II, Chapter 74

One thought on “The Ingenious Gentleman M. Cervantes Saavedra,…”The Haves and The Have-nots”

  1. Pingback: Miguel de Cervantes: International Man of Action | Yesterday Unhinged

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