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Biography of Miguel de Cervantes | His life and achievements.



The eventful existence of the author of Don Quixote, great creation that revolutionized the literature and gave rise to the modern novel.

Unlike the of his contemporary Lope de Vega, who knew from a young age the success as a playwright, poet, and seductive, the life of Cervantes was an uninterrupted series of small domestic and professional failures, in which did not miss captivity, or the unjust imprisonment, or an insult to the public. Not only it did not have income, but will it cost you to engage the favours of patrons or protectors; to this was added a particular misfortune that pursued him throughout his life. Only at the end, after the success of the two parts of Don Quixote, he met some reassurance and could enjoy the recognition for his work, but always burdened by economic hardship.
Sixth of the seven children of the marriage of Rodrigo de Cervantes Saavedra and Leonor de Cortinas, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born in Alcalá (dynamic seat of the second Spanish University, founded in 1508 by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros) between 29 September (Michaelmas day) and 9 October 1547, date in which he was baptized in the parish of Santa María la Mayor. His father's family knew prosperity, but his grandfather John, graduated in law from Salamanca and judge of the Holy Inquisition, left home and began an erratic and dissipated life, leaving his wife and the rest of their children in poverty, so the father of Cervantes was forced to ply his trade of Barber surgeon which became the child childhood in a tireless pilgrimage by Castilian most populous cities. By mother's side, Cervantes had a grandfather judge who became ephemeral landowner in Castile. These few data about the professions of the ancestors of Cervantes were the basis of the theory of Américo Castro on the converso origin (Jews forced to become Christians after 1495) of both parents of the writer.
The fate of Miguel seemed to prefigure in part on his father who, beset by debts, left Alcalá for search for new horizons in the prosperous Valladolid, but suffered seven months in jail for unpaid in 1552, and settled in Cordoba in 1553; two years later, in that city, Miguel joined the brand-new College of the Jesuits. Although he was not a person of great culture, Rodrigo was worried about the education of their children; the writer was an precocisimo reader and her two sisters knew read, very unusual thing at the time, even in the upper classes. Moreover, the family's situation was precarious. In 1556 Leonor sold the only servant who had left and they left for Seville, in order to improve economically, because this city was Spain door to the riches of the Indies and the third city in Europe, after Paris and Naples, in the second half of the 16th century.

Supposed portrait of Miguel de Cervantes
Seventeen Miguel was a shy, tongue-tied, teenager who attended class at the College of the Jesuits and distracted as a regular viewer of the representations of the popular Lope de Rueda, as you would remember later, in 1615, in the preface to the edition of his own comedies: «I remember seeing represent the great Lope de Rueda, illustrious male representation and understanding».
In 1551 the until then small and quiet villa in Madrid had been converted into capital by Felipe II, so in the following years the city quintuplicaría its size and population and led, once again, for the sake of prosper, the Cervantes moved in 1566 to the new capital. It is not known with certainty that Cervantes would have attended the University, while his works showed familiarity with student customs; on the other hand, its name appears in 1568, signing four compositions in an anthology of poems in loa of Isabella of Valois, third wife of Felipe II, who died that same year. The editor of the book, Juan López de Hoyos, humanist, likely introducer of Cervantes to the reading of Virgil, Horace, Seneca and Catullus and, above all, to the humanist Erasmo de Rotterdam, refers to him as «our dear and beloved student». Others venture, however, that in the circle or school of the Hoyos, Cervantes had been Professor and not disciple.
In the year of 1569 such a Miguel de Cervantes was sentenced to amputation of the right hand by injuring a such Antonio de Segura and arrest in Madrid. Applied the penalty, running, anyone who dared to make use of weapons in the vicinity of the Royal residence. It is not known if Cervantes came out of Spain that same year fleeing from this sanction, but the truth is that in December 1569 he was in the Spanish dominions in Italy, provided a certificate of old Christian (no Jews or Moors ascendants) and months later was a soldier in the company of Diego de Urbina.
But the great war expectations was placed in the campaign against the Turkish, in which the Spanish Empire encrypting its continuity in the domain and hegemony in the Mediterranean. Ten years earlier, Spain had lost in Tripoli eight thousand men and forty-two ships. Venice and Rome formed, with Spain, the Holy Alliance, and October 7, commanded by the bastard half-brother of the King of Spain, Juan de Austria, defeated the Turks in the battle of Lepanto in 1571. It was the immediate glory, a glory that marked Cervantes who then reported in the first part of Don Quixote, the circumstances of the fight. In its course the writer received three wounds, one of which, if accepted this hypothesis, unusable forever his left hand and earned him the nickname of 'the one-armed man of Lepanto' as glorious.
Along with his younger brother, Rodrigo, Cervantes entered into battle again at Corfu, also under the command of Juan de Austria. In 1573 and 1574 he was in Sicily and Naples, where it kept relationships with a young woman whom he called «Silena» in his poems and which had a son, promontory. You may also pass by Genoa at the orders of Lope de Figueroa, since the Ligurian city described in El licenciado Vidriera, and was finally directed to Rome, where he frequented the House of Cardinal Aquaviva (who would devote The Galatea), known yours, perhaps from Madrid, and by whose account would have fulfilled certain missions and assignments. It was the era in which Cervantes was proposed to achieve a higher social and economic status within the militia, with the position of Lieutenant or captain, for which earned two letters of recommendation to Felipe II, signed by Juan de Austria and by the viceroy of Naples, which certified his courageous performance in the battle of Lepanto.
With this intention, the Cervantes embarked on the schooner Sun, which departed Naples on September 20, 1575, and what should be an expeditious return to the homeland became the beginning of a long and unfortunate incident. Shortly after setting sail, the schooner was lost after a storm that separated it from the rest of the flotilla and was tackled, at the height of Marseilles, by three Berber Corsairs under the command of a renegade Albanian name Arnaute Mamí. After fierce combat and consequent death of the Christian captain, the brothers fell prisoners. Letters of recommendation saved the life of Cervantes, but would, at the same time, the cause of the prolonged captivity: Mommy, convinced to find a main person and resources, made him his slave and kept him away from the usual exchange of prisoners and the current slave trade between Christians and Turks. This circumstance and his crippled hand exempted him of going to the galleys.
Algiers was at that time one of the centers of Commerce richest in the Mediterranean. The many Christians passed from slavery to wealth renouncing their faith. Trafficking in persons was intense but the Cervantes family was well away from power meet the amount required even for the rescue of one of the brothers. Cervantes was, during his imprisonment, four escape attempts. The first was a frustrated attempt by land to reach Oran, which was the nearest point of the Spanish domination. The second, a year of him, coincided with preparations for the release of his brother. Indeed, Andrea and Magdalena, two sisters of Cervantes and who assumes that they are practising prostitution, maintained a lawsuit with a wealthy Spaniard named Alonso Pacheco Shepherd, during which showed that due to the marriage of this revenue as barraganas would be depleted, and, according to custom, obtained skills that were destined to the rescue of Rodrigo, who would emerge from Algiers on 24 August 1577 failed another attempt of escape from Miguel, and the brothers are dismissed, saving the life of running this last since its owner considered it a "main man".
The third attempt was much more dramatic in its consequences: Cervantes hired a Messenger who had a letter to the Spanish Governor of Oran. Intercepted, the Messenger was sentenced to death and impaled, while suspended the writer two thousand whipping was sentenced to and which amounted to death. Once again, the presumption of wealth allowed him to preserve life and lengthened their captivity. This happened at the beginning of 1578. Finally, a year and a half later, Cervantes planned an escape in the company of a renegade from Grenada, licenciado Giron. Betrayed by such a target of peace, Cervantes was chained and locked up for five months in prison of convicted moors of Algiers. It had a new owner, the Hassán King, who ordered six hundred ducats by their rescue. I was terrified: feared a move to Constantinople. Meanwhile, his mother, Doña Leonor, had initiated procedures for their rescue. Pretending to be widow, brought money, obtained loans and guarantees, was under the patronage of two friars, and in September 1579, delivered to the Council of the Crusades 475 Duchies. Until the last moment, Hassan retained Cervantes, while the friars trading, asking for alms to complete the amount, and finally, on September 19, 1580, he was released and, after a month in which to clear his name he pleiteó against the white of peace, embarked for Spain on October 24.
Five days later, after five years of captivity, Cervantes arrived in Denia and returned to Madrid. He was thirty-three years old and had spent the past ten between war and prison; his family, impoverished and indebted with the advice of the Crusades, reflected, in part, the deep general crisis of the Empire, which could only become worse after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1587. Returning, Cervantes resigned from his military career, enthused with the prospect of prosperity of Indian officials, tried to get a job in America and it failed. Meanwhile, fruit of its clandestine relations with a young married woman, Ana de Villafranca (or Ana de Rojas), was born a daughter, Isabel, raised by his mother and which appeared as his putative father, Alonso Rodríguez.
Cervantes was married at the age of thirty-seven. His girlfriend, Catalina de Salazar y Palacios, was from a family of Esquivias, peasant village of La Mancha. He was only eighteen years old, however, it does not seem to have been a union marked by love. Months earlier, the writer had finished his first important work, La Galatea, a pastoral novel style put in vogue by the Arcadia of Sannazaro fifty years ago. The editor Blas de Robles paid 1.336 real for the manuscript. This negligible figure and the good reception and the relative success of the book encouraged Cervantes to devote himself to writing comedies; Although he knew that you could badly compete him, still respectful of the classical rules, with the new way of Lope de Vega, absolute owner of the Spanish scene. The first two (the comedy of confusion and Treaty of Constantinople and the death of Selim, written to 1585 and missing both) were relatively successful in their representations, but Cervantes was defeated by the lopesco Gale and, despite the twenty or thirty works (of which only know nine titles and two texts, the dealings of Algiers and Numancia) around 1600 ceased to write comedies, activity that would take up at the end of his days.
Between 1585 and 1600 Cervantes settled in Esquivias, but used to visit Madrid and there, alternating with the writers of his time, read his works and maintained a permanent complaint with Lope de Vega. In 1587 he entered the Imitatoria Academy, first Madrid literary circle, and that same year was appointed Royal Commissioner for supplies (species collector) for the Spanish Armada. Also this fate was adverse: in Ecija faced with the Church by his excessive zeal collection and he was excommunicated; Castro del Río was imprisoned, in 1592, accused of selling part of the requisitioned wheat, until, on the death of his mother in 1594, he left Andalusia and returned to Madrid. But their economic hardship continued accompanying him. Appointed tax collector, broke the banker who had given large sums and Cervantes gave their bones in prison, this time in Seville, where he stayed for five months. In this time of extreme lack probably began the drafting of Don Quixote. Between 1604 and 1606, Cervantes family, his wife, her sisters so disreputable and fierce natural daughter as well as her nieces, followed the Court to Valladolid, until King Felipe III ordered the return to Madrid.
But in 1605, earlier this year, he appeared in Madrid the ingenious hidalgo don Quixote of La Mancha. The author was then man lean, slim, fifty-eight years, tolerant with his troubled family, little business to make money, cautious in times of peace and resolute in the war. Fame was immediate, but the economic effects were hardly notice. When, in June of 1605, the family Cervantes, with a head writer, went to prison for a few hours because of a murky affair that only tangentially touched them (the death of a Knight assisted by the women of the family, occurred after being wounded him to the doors of the House), don Quixote and Sancho already belonged to the popular heritage. Its author, was Meanwhile, through hardships. Offered you no respite even the literary life: encouraged by the success of Don Quixote, entered in 1609 in the brotherhood of slaves of the Blessed Sacrament, to which also belonged Lope de Vega and Quevedo. This was the custom of the time, offering Cervantes the opportunity to obtain a protectorate. In that same year was signed the Decree of expulsion of the Moors and has accelerated hardening of the Spanish social life under the inquisitorial rigor. Cervantes greeted the expulsion with joy, while his sister Magdalena was entering a religious order. They were years of drafting wills and sordid Bates: Magdalena had excluded from his Isabel in favor of another niece, Constance, and Cervantes resigned from his share of the estate of his brother also in favour of that, leaving out his own daughter, enzarzada in a lawsuit that is endless with the owner of the House in which he lived and in which Cervantes had been forced to declare in favour of her daughter.
Despite not getting even (as also failed it to Gongora) be included in the Entourage of his patron the new viceroy of Naples, the Earl of Lemos, who, however, gave concrete examples of your favor, Cervantes wrote at an unstoppable pace: the exemplary novels, which appeared in 1613; the journey to Parnassus, in verse, 1614. That same year surprised him with the emergence, in Tarragona, in a second part of Don Quixote, by such an Avellaneda, that authentic continuation of the adventures of the gentleman. Thus, ended up sick and needed, while it was the appearance of the eight comedies and eight new starters never represented (1615), the second part of Don Quixote, which appear in the course of the same year.
At the beginning of 1616 was finishing his novel adventures in Byzantine style, the works of Persiles and Segismunda; on 19 April he received the last rites and the next day wrote the dedication to the Earl of Lemos, an offering that has been considered as exquisite show of his genius and poignant autobiographical expression: "yesterday I was given the last rites and today write;» the time is short, eagerness to grow, hope wanes and, with all this, I've been life on the desire I have to live...».
A few months before his death, Cervantes had a moral reward for their hardships and economic woes: one of the censors, Mr. Torres Marques, sent him a recommendation that recounted a conversation in February 1615 with notable Knights of the French Ambassador to the Court of Mariela turnout: «Preguntaronme very retail your age, your profession, quality and quantity. " Halleme forced to say that it was old, soldier, hidalgo and poor, to these formal words one replied: "because such man does not Spain very rich and supported from the public purse?". «Came another of those Knights with this thought and much sharpness: "If need being forced to write, plague God who never have abundance, so his works, still poor, make everyone rich"».
Indeed, already circulated translations into English and French since 1612, and it can be said that Cervantes knew that with Don Quixote created a new literary form. He knew also that he introduced the genre of short novel in Spanish with his novels copies and no doubt felt the unlimited scope of the pair of characters who had conceived. His contemporaries, although they recognized the vividness of their ingenuity, not envisioned the depth of the discovery of the Quixote, same foundation of the modern novel.
Thus, between 22 and 23 April 1616 he died at his home in Madrid, attended by his wife and one of her nieces; wrapped in his Franciscan habit and with his face uncovered, he was buried in the convent of Discalced Trinitarian, then called Cantarranas Street. Today the exact location of his grave is unknown.
The sources of the art of Cervantes as a novelist are complex: on the one hand, don Quixote and Sancho are parody of the errant Knights and their Squires; on the other hand, in themselves exalts loyalty to honour and to fight for the weak. Converge in Don Quixote, then, realism and fantasy, meditation and reflection on literature: the characters argue about its own entity characters while the borders between delirium and reason, and between fiction and reality are deleted again and again. But the trail of Cervantes, who both accompanied the Imperial glories of Lepanto as the defeats of the invincible off the coast of England, only knew the troubles of poverty and the worries before the power. Unlike his character, he could never escape its fate of hidalgo, soldier and poor.

Chronology of Miguel de Cervantes

1547Born in Alcalá de Henares, son of a prosperous family with possible converts ascendants.
1552He moved with his family to Valladolid.
1566He moved to Madrid.
1568He attends the classes of the humanist J. López de Hoyos.
1569He published his first poems in the real relationship of Lopez de Hoyos. He entered the third of don Miguel de Moncada.
1570He participated in the battle of Lepanto.
1575Falls prisoner of the Turks and spends five years in Algiers.
1580It is released and returns to Spain.
1584Premiere in Madrid of the dealings of Algiers and Numancia. He contracted marriage with Catalina de Salazar y Palacios.
1585He published La Galateapastoral work. Write the first two comedies comedy of confusion and Treaty of Constantinople and the death of Selim (both missing).
1587He entered the Imitatoria Academy, first Madrid literary circle. Appointed Royal Commissioner for supplies.
1603Resides in Valladolid.
1605It appears, in Madrid, the first part of the ingenious hidalgo don Quixote of La Mancha. The second will in 1615.
1613Publication of the Novelas ejemplares.
1614Publication of trip to the Parmaso, a work in verse.
1615Publication of comedies and hors d'oeuvres.
1616He died in Madrid and he is buried in the convent of the Barefoot Trinity.


The Don Quixote of the Mancha of Miguel de Cervantes

It is possible that Cervantes began writing Don Quixote in some of its prison at the end of the 16th century. But almost nothing is known with certainty. The first part, which appeared posted early in 1605 with the title of the ingenious hidalgo don Quixote of la Manchawas finished in the summer of 1604. The success was immediate. Apocryphal continuation written by someone hidden in the pseudonym Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda, who accumulated in the prologue insults against Cervantes appeared in Tarragona in 1614. By then this was very advanced the second part of his immortal novel. He finished it very soon, urged by the literary theft and received injuries. Therefore, from Chapter 59, it lost no chance to ridicule the false Quixote and ensure the authenticity of the true don Quixote and Sancho. This second part appeared in 1615. In 1617 the two parts were published together in Barcelona. And since Don Quixote became one of the most published books in the world and, eventually, translated into all the languages with literary tradition.

Genesis of Don Quixote

Considered as a whole, the Quijote offers an anecdote quite simple, unitary and well locked: a manchego hidalgo, driven mad by the chivalrous readings, da believe knight-errant and leaves three times in her village in search of adventure, always authentic nonsense, until he returns to his home, ill and recovered judgment. However, the whole of the plot is not the intended flip, but it responds to a long process of creative, twenty years ago, somewhat winding and bumpy: it is possible that Cervantes even imagine at the beginning what the final result would be.

Last moments. Picture of Victor Manzano
Some cervantistas have defended the thesis of Cervantes set out initially to write a Novella of the type of the "copies". This idea is based on the unity of the first six chapters, in which takes place the first exit of don Quixote, his crushed Homecoming and scrutiny of his library by the priest and the Barber. Another reason is the close relationship between the start of each chapter and the end of the previous one. And also supports this thesis the similarity between the first six chapters and the anonymous hors d'oeuvres of romances, where the labrador Bartolo, driven mad by the reading of romances, leaves his house to emulate the heroes of ballads, defends a Shepherdess and is beaten by the babe that wanted it, and when he is found by his family imagine that the Marquis of Mantua helps it. But the exemplary novelita thesis is rejected by other scholars who believe that Cervantes conceived from the beginning a long novel.

Intention and meaning of work

What is sure is that Cervantes wrote a book fun, bursting with comedy and humor, with the ideal classic instruct and delight. Cervantes said several times that his first intention was to show readers of the time the absurdities of the novels of chivalry. Indeed, Don Quijote offers a parody of the crazy inventions of such works. But it means much more than an invective against the books of chivalry.
The richness and complexity of its content and its structure and narrative technique, the novel supports many levels of reading, and interpretations as diverse as considering it a work of humor, a mockery of human idealism, a distillation of bitter irony, a hymn to freedom, or many more. It is also a stunning lesson in literary theory and practice. Because, often discussed on existing books and approaches of how to write other futures, already from the first part: scrutiny of the library of don Quixote, reading of the ill-advised in the sale of Juan Palomeque and dispute over books of chivalry and history, review of the novel and the theatre of the time in the conversation between the cure and toledan Canon... In the second part of the novel, some characters have already read the first and made the same criticism. The first part will be so the point of reference for discussions about literary theory included in the second.
Among other contributions, Don Quijote also offers a panorama of Spanish society in his transition from the 16th to the 17TH, with characters from all walks of life, representing various trades and professions, samples of popular beliefs and customs. Its two central characters, don Quixote and Sancho, constitute a poetic synthesis of human beings. Sancho represents the attachment to material values, while don Quixote exemplifies the delivery to the defense of a freely assumed ideal. But they are not two opposite but complementary figures that show the complexity of the person, materialist and idealist at the same time.

The madness and the ideals

Madness was a frequent in the literature of the Renaissance, as the works of Ariosto and Erasmo de Rotterdam. Don Quixote acts as a paranoid maddened by the books of chivalry. Some consider it topped crazy, others believe that it is a "crazy streaky", with lucid intervals. Generally supported that don Quixote acts like crazy with regard to Knight-errantry and reason with sane otherwise. Don Quixote transformed reality and accommodates it to his chivalrous fiction: imagine castles where there are sales, sees Giants into windmills and, when the debacle, also explains it according to the chivalric code: evil enchanters have Dodge you the reality, envious of his glory.
But Don Quixote is also a model of aspiration to an ethical ideal and aesthetic of life. Becomes knight-errant to defend justice in the world and from the outset it aspires to be a literary character. In short, you want to do good and live life as a work of art. Intends to undertake "everything that can make perfect and famous to a knight-errant". Why imitate models, among which the first is Amadis of Gaul, who don Quixote emulates the penance of Sierra Morena.
That is why Don Quixote cause, as it has been noted often, a smile and a tear. We laugh with the nonsense of the Knight; but we also feel sadness about failing her attempt to make ideals that should be possible.

Its influence

Perhaps Cervantes was never to imagine the importance of his work would be for the development of the literature. So important was the influence of Don Quixote, which have been countless authors who have taken this work as a source of inspiration. They include William Shakespeare, Giovanni Meli, G. K. Chesterton, A. V. Lunacharski, and Jorge Luis Borges. The work of Cervantes was also a point of departure for important trials, which include life of don Quixote and Sancho, Miguel de Unamuno, and the route of don Quixote, Azorín.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
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