Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Spanish novelist, playwright, poet, and creator of Don Quixote, is the most famous figure in Spanish literature. His writings have become legendary, influencing many of today’s writers. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra lived an unsettled life of hardship and adventure. To begin he was born in Alcalá de Henares, a small town near Madrid, into a family of the minor nobility. Much of his childhood Cervantes spent moving from town to town while his father sought work. In the year 1570 Cervantes joined a Spanish regiment in Naples. He took part in the sea battle at Lepanto during which he received a wound that permanently maimed his left hand. Cervantes was extremely proud of his role in the famous victory and of the nickname he earned, el manco de Lepanto (the cripple of Lepanto). After recuperation in Messina, Sicily, he continued his military career. In 1575 he set out with his brother Rodrigo on the galley El Sol for Spain. The ship was captured by pirates under Arnaute Mami and the brothers were taken to Algiers as slaves. Rodrigo was ransomed in 1577. The Moors thought that Cervantes was a more valuable captive because he had carried letters written by important persons. Cervantes spent five years as a slave until his family could raise enough money to pay his ransom. During this period he tried to escape several times without success. Cervantes was released in 1580, with the payment of 500 escudos raised by his family and the Trinitarian order. His first play, Los Tratos de Argel , was based on his experiences as a Moorish captive. He died on April 23, 1616. Three days before he had finished his novel The Exploits of Persiles and Sigismunda, dedicated to the Count of Lemos. Neither wholly tragedy nor wholly comedy Don Quixote gives a panoramic view of the 17th-century Spanish society. Central characters are the elderly, idealistic knight, who sets out on his old horse Rosinante to seek adventure, and the materialistic squire Sancho...
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