Miguel de Cervantes is one of the most famous authors in world literature and his iconic status in Hispanic letters is equivalent to that of William Shakespeare’s in the English-speaking world (they died within eleven days of each other in 1616).
Edwin Williamson will review Cervantes’s life as a soldier, a slave of Muslim pirates in Algiers, and a collector of provisions for the Spanish Armada, and will talk about the enduring power and influence of his great masterpiece Don Quixote, which is widely regarded as having laid the foundations of modern fiction.
Professor Williamson holds the King Alfonso XIII Chair of Spanish Studies at the University of Oxford and is a Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. He has written widely on the literature, culture and history of the Spanish-speaking world. His publications include The Penguin History of Latin America, which was called ‘a small masterpiece of lucidity’ by the New York Times, and Borges: A Life, the acclaimed biography of the Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges, the most influential writer in the Spanish language since Cervantes. Williamson has recently been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship to write a book on ‘The Making of Don Quixote: How Cervantes Came to Write the First Modern Novel’, a critical study of Cervantes's evolution as a writer in the context of his other works and the Spanish culture and society of his time.