The Death and Life of Miguel de Cervantes

Stephen Marlowe, Author Arcade Publishing $25.95 (512p) ISBN 978-1-55970-358-1
Hildago by birth, soldier in Spain's most famous naval battle, slave in Algiers, excommunicated commissary and imprisoned debtor, Cervantes would still have been a notable Renaissance man even if he had not written the Quixote--which, in Marlowe's exuberant romp, he almost doesn't. Cervantes's impoverished, gypsy-like childhood provides Marlowe (The Lighthouse at the End of the World) with nonstop picaresque episodes and romance for the young Cervantes as well as his beautiful sister, Andrea, and his soldiering brother, Rodrigo. Cervantes's fortunes famously worsened after he was maimed in the battle of Lepanto and later captured by pirates and sold into slavery to the Moors, but Marlowe's story gets its biggest boost in Algiers, where Cervantes' miraculous delivery from the gallows sets the stage for the fulfillment of his creative promise. There Cervantes finds his calling as a faith healer/storyteller, as well as such foreshadowings of his epic in the covertly cross-dressing young Micaela, a smuggler's daughter, and Cide Hamete Benegeli, a Borgesian astrologer-philosopher and future biographer of Don Quixote. Returning to Spain, Cervantes takes up both playwrighting and espionage, encountering Christopher Marlowe and Lope de Vega, before dreaming up the Quixote. With so many chances for death in such a life, Cervantes's encounters with destiny are metaphysical close calls, including a climactic, chimerical battle with the Knight of the Moons. If Marlowe's version often disagrees with the historical record, this exemplary fiction matches incredible fact with ingenious storytelling. (Oct. )
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-1-55970-403-8
Open Ebook - 999 pages - 978-1-62872-001-3
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