Don Quixote Rides on After 400 Years

November 7, 2005

Picasso's rendering of Don Quixote and Sancho PazoThe original version runs about 1,000 pages and can be read aloud in a mere 48 hours — according to people who have done it — but the magic, mishaps, and morality of the Miguel de Cervantes novel, Don Quixote, are as influential and entertaining today as they were when it was published in 1605.

In celebration of the 400th anniversary of what is regarded by some as the world’s best work of fiction — and is documented as the most published and most translated book second only to the Bible — countries and colleges around the world are holding varied events. Spanish students and faculty at Mary Baldwin University will join the festivities this fall with a multi-media exploration of Cervantes’ novel.

“There is much attention in this area on Shakespeare and his works, which is exciting and educational. We wanted to increase awareness about Don Quixote and its author, who was one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, and had much influence on the literary world,” said Carrie Douglass, associate professor of anthropology and Spanish.

Like Shakespeare, Cervantes’ work crossed cultural borders and language barriers to inspire other novels and characters, plays, music, sculptures and paintings, other works of art, and even political movements. All Spanish students at Mary Baldwin will watch and participate in an homage to the novel November 15 at Blackfriars Playhouse, Staunton’s home to American Shakespeare Center. A sampling of the planned activities, most of which will be in Spanish, includes dramatic readings of selected passages, analysis of the art in the book, translation of the original text into English and modern-day scenarios, and video clips of the same scene interpreted in dance, movies, and theatre. Spanish students are also invited to a showing of Man of La Mancha in Francis Auditorium in November.

For more information about Don Quixote and Cervantes, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Quixote.