Works of Miguel de Cervantes

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The Works of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Rodrigo was rescued in but Miguel had to suffer incarceration until September 19 These events marked his character but also the lives of his family who had had to deal with the costs of keeping a house and the debts incurred from the rescue attempts of both sons. Cervantes, crippled from war and with his two letters of recommendation, tried to gain a posting in the Americas but all doors were closed to him. He needed to make a good marriage and find a profession that would hep him get out of the situation he was in.

Little information about his love life has been preserved. At 37 years of age he met the great love of his life, Ana Franca de Rojas, with whom his only daughter, Isabel de Saavedra, was conceived.

The complete works of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

However, surprisingly, despite the love they professed for each other, Miguel de Cervantes ended up marrying Catalina de Palacios Salazar, who was from Esquivias. During these adventurous years the writer wrote several plays. There is evidence that he was very interested in the theatre genre and that some of his plays were taken to the stage in the courtyard theatres of Madrid. In addition to his theatrical works, Miguel de Cervantes also wrote novels. It is the genuine style of the old romances of chivalry, improved and applied in a totally original way; and only where the dialogue style occurs is each person found to speak as he might be expected to do, and in his own peculiar manner.

But wherever Don Quixote himself harangues the language re-assumes the venerable tone of the romantic style; and various uncommon expressions of which the hero avails himself serve to complete the delusion of his covetous squire, to whom they are only half intelligible. This characteristic tone diffuses over the whole a poetic coloring, which distinguishes Don Quixote from all comic romances on the ordinary style; and that poetic coloring is moreover heightened by the judicious choice of episodes and interludes throughout the course of the novel.

The essential connection of these episodes with the whole has sometimes escaped the observation of critics, who have regarded as merely parenthetical those parts in which Cervantes has most decidedly manifested the poetic spirit of his work.

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The novel of El Curioso Impertinente cannot indeed be ranked among the number of these essential episodes but the charming story of the shepherdess Marcella, the history of Dorothea, and the history of the rich Camacho and the poor Basilio, are unquestionably connected with the interest of the whole. These serious romantic parts—which are not essential to the narrative connection but strictly belong to the characteristic dignity of the whole picture—also prove how far Cervantes was from the idea usually attributed to him of writing a book merely to excite laughter.

The passages, which common readers feel inclined to pass over, are, in general, precisely those in which Cervantes is most decidedly a poet, and for which he has manifested an evident predilection. On such occasions, he also introduces among his prose, episodical verses—for the most part excellent in their kind and no translator can omit them without doing violence to the spirit of the original. Were it not for the happy art with which Cervantes has contrived to preserve an intermediate tone between pure poetry and prose, Don Quixote would not deserve to be cited as the first classic model of the modern romance or novel.

It is, however, fully entitled to that distinction. Cervantes was the first writer who formed the genuine romance of modern times on the model of the original chivalrous romance that equivocal creation of the genius and the barbarous taste of the Middle Ages. Don Quixote is, moreover, the undoubted prototype of the comic novel.

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The humorous situations are, it is true, almost all burlesque , which was certainly not necessary, but the satire is frequently so delicate, that it escapes rather than obtrudes on unpracticed attention. The language, even in the description of the most burlesque situations, never degenerates into vulgarity; it is on the contrary, throughout the whole work, so noble, correct and highly polished, that it would not disgrace even an ancient classic of the first rank.


La Galatea, the pastoral romance, which Cervantes wrote in his youth, is a happy imitation of the "Diana" of Jorge de Montemayor, but exhibiting a still closer resemblance to Gil Polo's continuation of that romance. Next to Don Quixote and the Novelas exemplares, his pastoral romance is particularly worthy of attention, as it manifests in a striking way the poetic direction in which the genius of Cervantes moved even at an early period of life, and from which he never entirely departed in his subsequent writings.

As, however, the Galatea possesses but little originality, it constantly excites the recollection of its models, and particularly of the Diana of Gil Polo. Of the invention of the fable, likewise, but little can be said, for though the story is continued through six books, it is still incomplete. In composing this pastoral romance, Cervantes seems to have had no other object than to clothe a rich collection of poems in the old Spanish and Italian styles in the popular garb of a tale. The story is merely the thread that which the poems together; for the poems are the portions of the work most particularly deserving attention.

They are as numerous as they are various. It was remarked by the contemporaries of Cervantes that he was incapable of writing poetry, and that he could compose only beautiful prose; but that observation referred solely to his dramatic works. Every critic sufficiently acquainted with his lyrical compositions has rendered justice to their merit. From the romance of Galatea, it is obvious that Cervantes composed in all the various kinds of syllabic measure, which were used in his time. He even occasionally adopted the old dactylic stanza. He appears to have experienced some difficulty in the metrical form of the sonnet , and his essays in that style are by no means numerous; but his poems in Italian octaves display the utmost facility; and among the number, the song of Caliope, in the last book of the Galatea, is remarkable for graceful ease of versification.

It would be scarcely possible to arrange the other works of Cervantes according to a critical judgment of their importance; for the merits of some consist in the admirable finish of the whole, while others exhibit the impress of genius in the invention, or some other individual feature.

The Lesser-Known Works of Miguel de Cervantes

A distinguished place must, however, be assigned to the Novelas Exemplares Moral or Instructive Tales. Cervantes seemingly intended that they should be to the Spaniards nearly what the novels of Boccaccio were to the Italians; some are mere anecdotes, some are romances in miniature, some are serious, some comic, and all are written in a light, smooth, conversational style. The theme common to these is basically the traditional one of the Byzantine novel: pairs of lovers separated by lamentable and complicated happenings are finally reunited and find the happiness they have longed for.

The heroines are all of most perfect beauty and of sublime morality; they and their lovers are capable of the highest sacrifices, and they exert their souls in the effort to elevate themselves to the ideal of moral and aristocratic distinction which illuminates their lives. In El Amante Liberal, to cite an example, the beautiful Leonisa and her lover Ricardo are carried off by Turkish pirates; both fight against serious material and moral dangers; Ricardo conquers all obstacles, returns to his homeland with Leonisa, and is ready to renounce his passion and to hand Leonisa over to her former lover in an outburst of generosity; but Leonisa's preference naturally settles on Ricardo in the end.

The first three offer examples of love and adventure happily resolved, while the last unravels itself tragically. Its plot deals with the old Felipe Carrizales, who, after traveling widely and becoming rich in America, decides to marry, taking all the precautions necessary to forestall being deceived. He weds a very young girl and isolates her from the world by having her live in a house with no windows facing the street; but in spite of his defensive measures, a bold youth succeeds in penetrating the fortress of conjugal honor, and one day Carrizales surprises his wife in the arms of her seducer.

Surprisingly enough he pardons the adulterers, recognizing that he is more to blame than they, and dies of sorrow over the grievous error he has committed. Cervantes here deviated from literary tradition, which demanded the death of the adulterers, but he transformed the punishment inspired by the social ideal of honor into a criticism of the responsibility of the individual. Rinconete y Cortadillo is one of the most delightful of Cervantes' works. Its two young vagabonds come to Seville attracted by the riches and disorder that the sixteenth-century commerce with the Americas had brought.

There they come into contact with a brotherhood of thieves led by the unforgettable Monipodio, whose house is the headquarters of the Sevillian underworld.

The works of Miguel de Cervantes

When Monipodio appears, serious and solemn among his silent subordinates, "all who were looking at him performed a deep, protracted bow. The romance of Persiles and Sigismunda, which Cervantes finished shortly before his death, must be regarded as an interesting appendix to his other works. The language and the whole composition of the story exhibit the purest simplicity, combined with singular precision and polish. The idea of this romance was not new and scarcely deserved to be reproduced in a new manner. But it appears that Cervantes, at the close of his glorious career, took a fancy to imitate Heliodorus.

He has maintained the interest of the situations, but the whole work is merely a romantic description of travels, rich enough in fearful adventures, both by sea and land. Real and fabulous geography and history are mixed together in an absurd and monstrous manner; and the second half of the romance, in which the scene is transferred to Spain and Italy, does not exactly harmonize with the spirit of the first half.

Some of his poems are found in La Galatea. He also wrote Dos canciones a la armada invencible. The latter is his most ambitious work in verse, an allegory which consists largely of reviews of contemporary poets. The prose of the Galatea, which is in other respects so beautiful, is also occasionally overloaded with epithet. Cervantes displays a totally different kind of poetic talent in the Viaje al Parnaso, a work which cannot properly be ranked in any particular class of literary composition, but which, next to Don Quixote, is the most exquisite production of its extraordinary author.

The chief object of the poem is to satirize the false pretenders to the honors of the Spanish Parnassus, who lived in the age of the writer. But this satire is of a peculiar character: it is a most happy effusion of sportive humor, and yet it remains a matter of doubt whether Cervantes intended to praise or to ridicule the individuals whom he points out as being particularly worthy of the favor of Apollo. He himself says: "Those whose names do not appear in this list may be just as well pleased as those who are mentioned in it. Concealed satire, open jesting, and ardent enthusiasm for the beautiful are the boldly combined elements of this work.

About this Book

It is divided into eight chapters, and the versification is in tercets—four-line stanzas each line in iambic pentameter. James Clear. Matthew Walker. Eric Carle. Elena Favilli.

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