The Tetra Centenary of Cervantes and Shakespeare

Joaquina Pires-O’Brien

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616) and William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Cervantes and Shakespeare died within days of each other; the first on 22 April and the second on 3 May 1616. What do they have in common? They both wrote poetry and plays and were both extremely creative. Harold Bloom, an American literary critic specialised in Shakespeare, wrote that only Shakespeare comes close to Cervantes’ genius. It is a fact that Cervantes and Shakespeare are at the top of the list of western authors.

Cervantes’ place in the pantheon of great writers resulted from his book Don Quixote de la Mancha, whose full title is El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha), published in two volumes in 1605 and 1615. In it, Cervantes introduces the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, an unlikely duo who have captured readers’ imagination for centuries. To some, Don Quixote is a mad man, to others, a decent human being trying to follow his heart. Sancho Panza too evokes contradictory views. It appears that Cervantes intended to put human contradiction at the heart of his plot. As pointed out by George Orwell (in an essay entitled The Art of Donald McGill, about a postcard caricaturist), Don Quixote and Sancho Panza captivate our imagination for we all have some of their traits within ourselves.

In this edition of PortVitoria, Débora Finamore, a Brazilian literature teacher and a member of our board of editors, provides a review of Don Quixote, underlining the editions available in Portuguese. We also offer six poems by Cervantes chosen by Paul Archer, a British poet and lyricist living in Mallorca, which are followed by English versions translated by Archer himself.

There are two other items in this edition, an article on the thoughts of Bertrand de Jouvenel, Fernando R. Genovés, and a review of Clarice Lispector’s Complete Stories, by Jenny McPhee.

July 2016


Pires-O’Brien, J. Editorial. The Tetra Centenary of Cervantes and Shakespeare. PortVitoria, UK, v.13 Jul-Dec, 2016. ISSN 2044-8236.