- "Doubt if you will, but the truth is that which I have told, and forever rests upon lies like oil over water."
Novelas Ejemplares (Exemplary Novels)
- "And, being merry and young, they did not miss any chances of hearing about the beautiful maids of the city."
Born poor; died poor; buried in an unmarked grave in Madrid. Seemingly not much of a legacy … and yet 'Don Quixote,' translated into 60 languages, is considered civilization’s first best seller. Not that its success did Miguel de Cervantes much good, as authors didn’t receive royalties in the 16th Century.
Born somewhere near Madrid in 1547 AD, Miguel was the son of a surgeon, a lowly trade at the time. The family moved several times as Miguel grew up, his deaf father seeking better work prospects. Although the matter of his formal education is debated, it is known that his first published work – poetry in a memorial collection upon the death of Philip II’s queen – appeared in 1569.
But, since the sword is indeed mightier than the pen, de Cervantes put aside his poetry and enlisted. He took part in the epic battle at Lepanto aboard the ship La Marquesa, sustaining two chest wounds and a maimed hand. Despite all this, de Cervantes continued to serve as a soldier. In 1575, he had had enough of the bloodshed, and sought to return home. But he was captured by the Turks on the voyage; de Cervantes spent the next five years a slave, only released upon ransom paid.
Back in Spain, still attempting to earn a living, de Cervantes’ first work was published in 1585, and ignored. Trying to earn some coin as a commissary for the outfitting Spanish Armada, he ended up in prison (twice) on charges of mismanagement. Thus, de Cervantes turned back to writing, and the first part of 'Don Quixote' was published in 1605. The second part saw print in 1615; its author died the following year … still seeking fame and a little fortune.