Friday, April 22, 2016

Miguel Cervantes, RIP

We should be celebrating Miguel Cervantes today on the 400th anniversary of this great novelist's death, but we aren't celebrating it as much as we are William Shakespeare's 400th anniversary tomorrow (April 23), as least according to the BBC:

Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died days apart, 400 years ago, each of them a giant in his own language and literary tradition. But a difference in the scale of quatercentenary [sic] celebrations in their respective countries and around the world is leading some fans of the author of Don Quixote to cry foul.

While "all the world's a stage" for the British bard thanks to the rollout of the massive Shakespeare Lives programme of arts events around the globe, celebrations of the life of his Spanish contemporary are perhaps "more honoured in the breach than the observance".

Shakespeare Lives aims to reach half a billion people worldwide - the first screenings of The Complete Walk, 37 short films to represent the complete body of the bard's stage plays, took place at the weekend. The Spanish government's action plan for Cervantes, on the other hand, seems far less ambitious... and leans heavily on exhibitions and conferences in big city museums and libraries.

This has provoked some rather unchivalrous comments from bigwigs in the field of Spanish culture.

"We've had 400 years to prepare for this," said Dario Villanueva, director of the Spanish Royal Academy, shortly after a letter from UK Prime Minister David Cameron introducing Shakespeare Lives was published in major newspapers around the world.

"There are a few events lined up but the figure of Cervantes deserves a major gesture on the part of our top institutions."

The Spanish Culture Ministry has admitted that the programme remains a "work in progress" and that some events will not emerge from the pipeline until 2017.

Read the rest here

Since I have Chesterton on my mind, here's a snippet of his Lepanto--Cervantes was there at the great victory of the Holy League--and Cervantes is already thinking of his great hero:

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

And, Chesterton wrote his own homage to Cervantes in his last novel, The Return of Don Quixote!

Finally, here's the great anthem from The Man of LaMancha, "To Dream the Impossible Dream", sung by the original Broadway Don Quixote, Richard Kiley!

May Miguel Cervantes, hero and author, rest in the peace of Christ, having reached the reachable Star of Heaven!

1 comment:

  1. Stars, you mean? Or is it a quote?

    Anyway, I think he came to the Southern Cross and the Pearly Gate is there.

    As St Thomas More, he could point to the sun and say he would be above "that fellow".