The History of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha


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In the history of world literature, there are only a few works that are on the shelves or practically every library in the Western world. Among these are the Bible, The Divine Comedy, the most celebrated works of Shakespeare, and, of course, Don Quixote. After the Bible, Don Quixote is the most translated work throughout all of history. Cervantes published the first part at the beginning of 1605, with the title The History of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, and only in 1615 would the second part appear. From its publication, the work was perceived as an authentic demystification of the once consecrated genre the chivalry novel. But the satire and critical eye of Cervantes transcends the singularities of his era: and now his portrait of the human condition, in all its splendor and misery, can move us or disgust us, but without a doubt it represents us.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra is difficult to track in his works, seeing as little is truly biographical or pseudoautobiographical in his writing, as was common with other authors before him such as Mateo Aleman who presented Guzman de Alfarache as a chronical of his past. In fact, in Quixote, Cervantes remains disguised even after supposed narrators, mainly Cide Hamete Benengeli, nor should we fall for the trick of that first person with which he begins the prologue by addressing us as the «unoccupied reader.» However, it is undeniable that his works, and most notably Quixote, assume a new manner of distilling his own life into a work of literature: by hiding more the identity of the author in order to freely unleash his ingenuity and inventiveness, just as he grants his characters a degree of agency and freedom that culminates in individual and autonomous protagonists, something new for the time.