The Life of Cervantes: "Tilting at Windmills" and Creating the Modern Novel (Encore Presentation)

May 23, 2016

(Note: This show first aired back in February.) On this edition of ST, we're discussing an interesting literary biography called "The Man Who Invented Fiction: How Cervantes Ushered In the Modern World." Our guest is the author, William Egginton, who is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and a Professor of German and Romance Languages and Literatures at the Johns Hopkins University. As was noted of this compelling study in the pages of Publishers Weekly: "Egginton weaves together Cervantes's life story with his development as a writer. Cervantes's life was a saga unto itself: he served in the Spanish army, was kidnapped and enslaved in Algiers, became a playwright, wrote a pastoral romance, spent time in debtors' prison, fathered an illegitimate daughter, and, while working as a tax collector, was twice excommunicated by the Catholic Church for raising revenues from them rather than from impoverished peasants. Finally, he drew from a deep wellspring of disillusion to write his ironic masterpiece, 'Don Quixote,' late in life. Egginton shines in his literary analysis, teasing out Cervantes's genius in accessible prose and showing how 'Don Quixote' paved the way for modern fiction by exploring its characters' inner lives...." You can learn more about this book, and can hear a free, on-demand mp3-stream of our conversation with its author, at this link.