>>>Cervantes, Spain’s beloved

Cervantes, Spain’s beloved

It is the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes. He left his mark in Castilla-La Mancha, but Madrid, Seville and Barcelona continue to speak for him.
C
ervantes lives, and Twitter has the proof: @Cervantes_Vive, offering a way to pay homage to the most famous Spanish writer of all time, on the fourth centenary of his death. “This man you see here, with aquiline face, chestnut hair, smooth, unwrinkled brow, joyful eyes and curved though well-proportioned nose.” That is how he describes himself in the prologue to his Exemplary Novels. It is the closest we have to a self-portrait of him. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra had a stutter. He expressed himself better with the quill and wrote the most translated book after the Bible: The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha can be read in more than 140 languages.
The Cervantes Birthplace Museum has designed a theatrical trail based on the adventures of Don Quixote, for summer 2016.

Literature has a quarter in Madrid

The Literary Quarter (Barrio de Las Letras) was home and meeting place for the leading authors of the Spanish Golden Age. Calle de Cervantes 2 is where the writer lived and died. He also lived at 18 Calle Huertas, in the building that now houses the renowned restaurant Casa Alberto.

He was born in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid, Spain) in 1547, although Alcázar de San Juan (Ciudad Real) also lays claim to being his birthplace. In the Old Town of Alcalá, you will find the Cervantes Birthplace Museum, which has a second edition copy of El Quijote, in Spanish, printed in 1605. The Cervantes Train departs from Atocha, the main train station in Madrid. Its destination is Alcalá and the essence of Cervantes accompanies you during the journey: actors in 17th-century dress perform fragments of his works. The local council has produced an activities programme to commemorate the fourth centenary of the writer’s death: exhibitions, concerts, theatre, dance and cinema. They want Cervantes, who wrote more than 30 works, to be known for more than the gentleman of weathered complexion “his flesh scrawny, his face gaunt”, who brought him universal acclaim and almost managed to eclipse him.
“Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember…” is the most repeated phrase from Spanish literature. And there are several places in La Mancha that want to attribute themselves with the honour. Villanueva de los Infantes (Ciudad Real) is the one with the most points, as confirmed by researchers, who analysed the routes and times of Don Quixote for ten years. It may also be Argamasilla de A­lba. His desire not to remember the name makes sense: he was held prisoner there at Medrano cave, supposedly for collecting taxes outside his jurisdiction.
: The building that is now home to restaurant Casa Alberto is where Cervantes wrote his novel Journey to Parnassus.
Don Quixote travels the roads of La Mancha accompanied by his loyal squire Sancho Panza, but there is controversy about the villages he passed through. Although during the 17th century it was not possible to check in using Foursquare, this has not prevented there being an official Don Quixote tourism trail, distinguished as a European Cultural Route. It is more than 2,000 kilometres long, and divided among 148 municipalities. It starts in Toledo, which is the capital of Castilla-La Mancha. Campo de Criptana (Ciudad Real) is the location of the windmills that he mistook for giants.
There is a reproduction of the dramatist’s baptismal font at the Centro de Interpretación, Alcalá de Henares.
The main characters glimpse the sea for the first time in Barcelona, from a gate in the city wall, when they are nearly at the end of their adventure. Today, in its place, stands the School of Nautical Studies. Cervantes visited the city at least once and stayed at number 2, Passeig de Colom.  Barcelona will play tribute to him at the Liceu theatre on 20 August, with the opening performance of El hombre de la Mancha (Man of La Mancha), a modern musical and a “version as never seen before” according to the organisers. On 6 October, the musical will be performed at Nuevo Teatro Alcalá, Madrid, where it will remain all season.
Before publishing El Quijote, Cervantes lived in Andalusia for ten years. He worked as a tax collector for King Phillip II’s galleys. He was excommunicated, accused of perversion of justice and imprisoned at the Cárcel Real (Royal Prison) of Seville. That was where he began devising his great masterpiece. He refers to this in the prologue to the first part: “Begotten in a prison, where every discomfort is lodged.” He was nearly 58 years old when El Quijote came out. It was a surprise because he had not published anything for 20 years and the book achieved immediate success. Don Quixote became more than a character. Spanish poet and literary critic Dámaso Alonso summed it up: “He is Spain.”
 

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