No Ordinary Man: The Life and Times of Miguel de Cervantes

No Ordinary Man: The Life and Times of Miguel de Cervantes

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0486453618

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"A fascinating story."—Choice
"A remarkable achievement."—Sunday Herald
For the general reader, as well as students and historians, this absorbing study chronicles the life and work of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). World-renowned as the author of Don Quixote, the "Spanish Shakespeare" led an adventurous and fruitful life that encompassed widely disparate roles—spy, lover, soldier, hostage, tax collector, poet, playwright, and, most notably, creator of the first European novel.
This biography is based on new original research, and incorporates previously unpublished material on Cervantes' long period of captivity in Algiers; also, his involvement with piracy in the Mediterranean and with espionage and the Spanish Armada; and his work as an agent of the Spanish government. Containing significant details never before available in English, it is an important contribution to the understanding of a unique literary figure.

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prove that Cervantes ignored Hasan Pasha’s threats, but no doubt the death of the gardener made him re-examine his life in captivity. After all, he had now been inside some three years, culminating in five harsh months of incarceration. One consolation was the knowledge that Rodrigo was free, although at times he may well have questioned his generosity towards his younger brother. No doubt the latter also deeply regretted the failure of the second escape. Nothing is recorded of his feelings as he

at least in part, the military need to man the galleys – needs that increased by the decade – Cervantes could not have forgotten that he, too, had resisted the justices. Had he been caught he may well have ended up as a galley-slave. Seen in this light, the episode in Don Quixote where the knight sets free the chain gang of galley-slaves on their way to the port takes on new significance. ‘“Slaves?” asked Don Quijote. “Is it possible that the king actually enslaves anyone?” “That’s not what I

sick man and mercilessly hounded by Moscoso, who pursued his suit until Isunza’s death in 1593. Isunza was replaced by Miguel de Oviedo, who immediately commissioned Cervantes to gather wheat for the Spanish navy. He employed him because he viewed Cervantes as ‘competent, experienced and trustworthy’. High praise indeed from a source close to the investigation of the scandal associated with other commissaries in the region, although it is impossible to know to what extent Oviedo is merely

But Cervantes had little time to brood on personal circumstance. With public outcry against commissioners mounting, especially after the scandal of the affair with Antonio de Guevara, the king decided to change the system and to deal with the local landowners, councils and constabulary directly. Oviedo’s operation was wound up and so, after seven years’ toil, Cervantes’ life as a commissary was over. In June 1594 his accounts were approved and he was a free man. He had very little money, but he

from the ways of Guzmán de Alfarache or from the numerous dubious characters found in Cervantes’ short stories and works for the theatre. She died in January 1611 and was buried in the Franciscan habit, her face unveiled. The fact that her funeral was paid for by the nuns suggests that Cervantes once again found himself in financial difficulties. That this was so is corroborated twelve months later in the documented transfer of his wife’s portion of the estate inherited from her mother to

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