Miguel de Cervantes

Literary Birthday – 29 September – Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes was born 29 September 1547, and died 23 April 1616.

10 Writerly Observations by Miguel de Cervantes

  1. The pen is the tongue of the mind.
  2. In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.
  3. By such innovations are languages enriched, when the words are adopted by the multitude, and naturalised by custom.
  4. Translating from one language to another, unless it is from Greek and Latin, the queens of all languages, is like looking at Flemish tapestries from the wrong side, for although the figures are visible, they are covered by threads that obscure them, and cannot be seen with the smoothness and colour of the right side.
  5. It is one thing to write as poet and another to write as a historian: the poet can recount or sing about things not as they were, but as they should have been, and the historian must write about them not as they should have been, but as they were, without adding or subtracting anything from the truth
  6. Let’s turn now to the citation of authors, found in other books and missing in yours. The solution to this is very simple, because all you have to do is find a book that cites them all from A to Z, as you put it. Then you’ll put that same alphabet in your book, and though the lie is obvious it doesn’t matter, since you’ll have little need to use them; perhaps someone will be naïve enough to believe you have consulted all of them in your plain and simple history; if it serves no other purpose, at least a lengthy catalogue of authors will give the book an unexpected authority. Furthermore, no one will try to determine if you followed them or did not follow them, having nothing to gain from that.
  7. The pen is the language of the soul; as the concepts that in it are generated, such will be its writings.
  8. Our greatest foes, and whom we must chiefly combat, are within.
  9. It is better to earn a living with the crowd than a reputation with the elite. This is what would happen to my book after I had singed my eyebrows trying to keep the precepts I have mentioned and had become the tailor who wasn’t paid.
  10. The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.

Miguel de Cervantes was a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright. Don Quixote is considered to be the first modern European novel.



Attributed to Juan Martínez de Jáuregui y Aguilar, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

Please click here for our Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 29th September 2012