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Lesson 2: Describing yourself and others

Page 12 of 12 previous       vocabularies section

Culture: Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: Authentic portraits of Cervantes do not exist. All pictures of him are rather artists' conceptions of what he might have looked like.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), was a Spanish novelist, poet and playwright. William Shakespeare, Cervantes' great contemporary, had evidently read Don Quixote, but it is very unlikely that Cervantes on the other hand had ever heard of Shakespeare.

In 1585, Cervantes published his first major work, La Galatea, a pastoral romance. At the same time, some of his plays, now lost except for El trato de Argel (where 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 even though he repeatedly promised to.

When the first part of Don Quixote appeared in 1605, it brought him international appreciation as a writer, even though it did not make him rich. Short novels, and the vogue obtained by Cervantes's story led to the publication of a continuation of Don Quixote by an unknown who published under the name of Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda. As a reaction to this, Cervantes produced his own continuation, or "Second Part", of Don Quixote in 1615.

For the world at large, interest in Cervantes centers particularly on Don Quixote. Of the two parts written by Cervantes, the first has ever remained the favorite. On the whole, the Exemplary Novels are worthy of the fame of Cervantes; they bear the same stamp of genius as Don Quixote.

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