Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra Poster


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Overview (3)

Born in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
Died in Madrid, Spain  (dropsy)
Birth NameMiguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Mini Bio (1)

Miguel de Cervantes' baptism occurred on October 9, 1547, at Alcala de Henares, Spain, so it is reasonable to assume he was born around that time, and Alcala de Henares has long claimed itself as his birthplace. The son of Rodrigo de Cervantes, an itinerant and not-too-successful surgeon, Miguel was educated by monks as he and his family wandered from city to city. In 1570 he obtained a position as a kind of secretary to Cardinal Aquaviva in Rome. In 1571 he became a soldier and fought in the famous Battle of Lepanto that pitted Spain against Turkish forces. Being ill with fever at the time, and wishing to prove his bravery, he asked to be put in the most dangerous fighting position on his ship. He was, and received two wounds in the chest and one in his left hand, which rendered him disabled for life. Returning home with his brother Rodrigo in 1575, they were captured by the Barbary pirates and sold into slavery. He and his fellow captives made three attempts to escape, all unsuccessful - one because they were betrayed by a fellow captive. In each attempt Cervantes deliberately shouldered the blame on himself, in an attempt to shield his fellow captives from torture. The Turkish Bey was so impressed with his perhaps foolhardy audacity that he spared him each time. The Cervantes family was able to ransom Rodrigo but not Miguel, and he remained in captivity until 1580, when he was finally ransomed by two Trinitarian friars.

He then began a writing career, which was at first completely unsuccessful due to the fact that Cervantes deliberately tried to write the kind of plays and poetry popular at the time, and to imitate their style, something he was woefully inadequate at doing. He fathered a daughter out of wedlock, and entered into an unhappy marriage in 1584. He took on a series of odd jobs to make ends meet. His financial difficulties netted him three or more prison terms and an excommunication by the Spanish Inquisition, although it was clear he never committed any crimes. Finally, in 1605, he published the first part of the novel which gave him immortality, the brilliant and unforgettable "Don Quixote de La Mancha", which was supposed to be a satire on the chivalric novels of the time, but was actually a work unlike anything anyone else had ever written (the second part followed ten years later, after the success of the first had produced a plagiarized sequel that not only coarsened the satire but contained openly insulting remarks about Cervantes). "Don Quixote"'s surface seems comic, but Cervantes, finally writing in his own personal style and no one else's, created two characters, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, to whom he gives more multi-layered depth than anyone else up to that time had given characters, except possibly the depth that William Shakespeare had given to Hamlet. The novel "Don Quixote" itself becomes an ironic mixture of comedy, humiliation, disillusionment and tragedy. All of its characters, except those in the interpolated romance novels, are believable and each reacts to Don Quixote's madness in an illuminating way. "Don Quixote" was immensely successful in its time, but it did not make Cervantes a wealthy man.

His other highly regarded works are his collection of "Exemplary Stories", published in 1613, and his "Eight Interludes", published in 1615. He died of dropsy on April 23, 1616, but in an especially ironic twist, his gravesite is lost. His contemporary, William Shakespeare, died ten days later, which according to the Julian calendar then used in England was, coincidentally, also April 23, 1616. Strangely enough, to the end of his life, Cervantes valued his poetic work more highly than his prose (perhaps just a case of wishful thinking) and never considered "Don Quixote" his masterpiece. He died without knowing that it would be one day regarded as the world's greatest novel by many critics.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Albert Sanchez Moreno

Spouse (1)

Catalina de Salazar y Palacios (12 December 1584 - 23 April 1616) (his death)

Trivia (16)

The full title of his masterwork, "Don Quixote," is "El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha ("The Ingenious Nobleman Don Quijote of La Mancha").
His actual date of birth is unknown, but it is generally assumed it was on September 30.
One daughter: Isabel de Saavedra, born 1584 to Cervantes' mistress, actress Ana Franca de Rojas. His marriage was childless.
His one-act "Eight Interludes", published in 1615, were written, unlike his full-length plays, mostly in prose, and mostly in the colloquial style which was his alone. They were considered unworthy of his abilities for a fairly long time, but have lately come to be highly regarded by critics. Cervantes was told by the playhouse manager that they did not measure up to the works of other playwrights of the era, which made Cervantes quite angry; but optimistic about their chances, he published them so that at least the reading public might know them. They have appeared, like the "Exemplary Stories", in several English translations, but have never gained as wide a public as "Don Quixote". In recent years, some of them have even been performed in English.
English translations of "Don Quixote" have frequently been published at intervals. There was only one in the 1600s, but there were at least three during the 1700s, three or four more between 1881 and 1899, three between 1949 and 1957, and there have since been three more published between 1993 and 2003.
It is sometimes written that all but two of Cervantes' plays are lost; however, this has proven not to be the case. At least eight of his plays have survived.
Some of his "Exemplary Stories", a collection of novelettes all designed to teach a moral lesson, have been recently published in two separate paperback translations. There are twelve "Exemplary Stories" in all, but the complete set of stories has rarely been issued in English. One of them, "La Gitanilla" (The Little Gypsy Girl) has been filmed three times, and several of them have been presented on Spanish television.
His last work, which Cervantes himself believed to be his finest, was "The Travails of Persiles and Segismunda", published posthumously in 1617, but history has not shared Cervantes' judgment of that work. It has rarely been translated into English.
One of the characters of the show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968) was named after Cervantes' creation - a donkey named Don Quixote, who lives in a place called Someplace Else.
Cervantes was a contemporary of William Shakespeare, but Spain and England were bitter enemies at the time. The defeat of the Spanish armada by the British took place during Cervantes' lifetime.
Ironically, Cervantes was descended directly from the very knights-errant whose adventures he so successfully spoofs in "Don Quixote.".
His novel "Don Quixote" features a character named Cardenio, who tells the story of how a good friend stole a woman he loved. This was later the basis for a lost play by William Shakespeare entitled The History of Cardenio.
"Don Quixote" underwent a rather drastic revision just a few months after it was first published: Sancho Panza suddenly refers to his donkey being stolen, though no scene of it being stolen was included in the book. The second edition inserts this passage into a scene a few chapters earlier, and therefore Cervantes had to rewrite the scenes that follow so as to take out the donkey.
Lost the use of his left hand in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
Lived in poverty on a farm.
First wrote the expression "I've got bigger fish to fry" in Don Quixote.

Personal Quotes (1)

Time ripens all things; no man is born wise.

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