Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (sərvăn´tēz, Span. mēgĕl´ dā thĕrvän´tās sä´ävāŧħrä), 1547–1616, Spanish novelist, dramatist, and poet, author of Don Quixote de la Mancha, b. Alcalá de Henares.

Life

Little is known of Cervantes's youth. He went to Italy (1569), where, in the service of a cardinal, he studied Italian literature and philosophy, which were later to influence his work. In 1570 he enlisted in the army and fought in the naval battle of Lepanto (1571), receiving a wound that permanently crippled his left arm. While returning to Spain in 1575 he was captured by Barbary pirates and was sold as a slave; he eventually became the property of the viceroy of Algiers. After many attempted escapes, he was ransomed in 1580, at a cost that brought financial ruin to himself and to his family. As a government purchasing agent in Seville (1588–97), Cervantes proved less than successful; his unbusinesslike methods resulted in deficits, and he was imprisoned several times.

Works

His first published work was an effusive pastoral romance in prose and verse, La Galatea (1585). Between 1582 and 1587 he wrote more than 20 plays, only two of which survive. He was 58 when Part I of his masterpiece, Don Quixote (1605; Part II, 1615), was published. As a superb burlesque of the popular romances of chivalry, Don Quixote was an enormous and immediate success. A spurious Part II was published in 1614, probably spurring Cervantes to complete the work.

Don Quixote is considered a profound delineation of two conflicting attitudes toward the world: idealism and realism. The work has been appreciated as a satire on unrealistic extremism, an exposition of the tragedy of idealism in a corrupt world, and a plea for widespread reform. Whatever its intended emphasis, the work presented to the world an unforgettable description of the transforming power of illusion, and it has had an indelible effect on the development of the European novel.

Don Quixote is a country gentleman who has read too many chivalric romances. He and the peasant Sancho Panza, who serves as his squire, set forth on a series of extravagant adventures. The whole fabric of 16th-century Spanish society is detailed with piercing yet sympathetic insight. The addled idealism of Don Quixote and the earthy acquisitiveness of Sancho serve as catalysts for numerous humorous and pathetic exploits and incidents. Its panorama of characters, the excellence of its tales, and its vivid portrayal of human nature contribute to the enduring influence of Don Quixote.

In later years Cervantes wrote other works of fiction, including Novelas ejemplares (1613), 12 original tales of piracy, Gypsies, and human passions, drawn from his own experience and molded by his mature craftsmanship. Some of these stories in themselves prove him to be one of the world's great literary masters.

Bibliography

Among the most acclaimed translations of Don Quixote are those by S. Putman (1949), J. M. Cohen (1950), and E. Grossman (2003). See biographies by L. Astrana Marín (in Spanish, 7 vol., 1948–58), F. Díaz Plaja (tr. 1970), and W. Byron (1988); studies by L. Nelson (1969), A. K. Forcione (1982), J. G. Weiger (3 vol., 1979–88), and C. B. Johnson (1983); bibliography by D. B. Drake (1980).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.