Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born Alcalá, Spain. Early in his career Cervantes was a soldier and suffered serious wounds, one of which almost carried away his left hand. Cervantes is, of course famous for his book, Don Quixote. Tradition has it that he wrote it while in prison at Argamasilla in La Manchia. The book was first published in 1605; a second part came out in 1615.
Don Quixote has been described as "... that genial and just judge of imposture, folly, vanity, affectation, and insincerity; that tragic picture of the brave man born out of his time, too proud and too just to be of use in his age!" (Frederic Harrison, 1831-1923.)
Sir Walter Raleigh (1861-1922) wrote this about Don Quixote:
"A Spanish knight, about fifty years of age, who lived in great poverty in a village of La Mancha, gave himself up so entirely to reading the romances of chivalry, of which he had a large collection, that in the end they turned his brain, and nothing would satisfy him but that he must ride abroad on his old horse, armed with spear and helmet, a knight-errant, to encounter all adventures, and to redress the innumerable wrongs of the world. He induced a neighbour of his, a poor and ignorant peasant called Sancho Panza, mounted on a very good ass, to accompany him as squire. The knight saw the world only in the mirror of his beloved romances; he mistook inns for enchanted castles, windmills for giants, and country wenches for exiled princesses. His high spirit and his courage never failed him, but his illusions led him into endless trouble. In the name of justice and chivalry he intruded himself on all whom he met, and assaulted all whom he took to be making an oppressive or discourteous use of power. He and his poor squire were beaten, trounced, cheated, and ridiculed on all hands, until in the end, by the kindliness of his old friends in the village, and with the help of some new friends who had been touched by the amiable and generous character of his illusions, the knight was cured of his whimsies and was led back to his home in the village, there to die." (Raleigh's full essay is on line at blupete, "Don Quixote.")
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