Don Quixote at 400

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photoImmortalized in Miguel Cervantes's 17th century classic Spanish novel, the Man of La Mancha Don Quixote turns 400 this year. The mad windmill-battling knight errant has inspired and brought solace and humor to dreamers around the world.

Cervantes's great work has been celebrated in over 100 translations, in movies and a smash Broadway musical. It is said to be the world's most widely published book after the Bible. Don Quixote himself has become an icon of battered endurance and idealism, inseparable from his bony nag and faithful sidekick Sancho Panza.

Cervantes's tale of calamitous chivalry is regarded as the first modern novel — a book writers have called the "best and most central work" in literature, a peer to Shakespeare, tutor to Tolstoy, Goethe, Dickens, Proust, and Joyce.

This year's 400th anniversary has been celebrated with marathon readings. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez printed one million copies, handing them out free in public squares.

Why does Miguel Cervantes's "Man of La Mancha" remains a best-selling hero to humanity four centuries on?


Howard Mancing, professor of Spanish, Purdue University and author of "The Chivalric World of Don Quixote" and "The Cervantes Encyclopedia".

Maria Antonia Garces, professor of Hispanic Studies, Cornell University and author of "Cervantes in Algiers: A Captive's Tale".

This program aired on April 29, 2005.


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