The Man Who Invented Fiction: How Cervantes Ushered in the Modern World
'In 1605 a crippled, greying, almost toothless veteran of Spain's wars against the Ottoman Empire published a book. That book, Don Quixote, went on to sell more copies than any other book beside the Bible, making its author, Miguel de Cervantes, the most widely read author in human history. Cervantes did more than just publish a bestseller, though. He invented a way of writing.' In Cervantes' time, 'fiction' was synonymous with a lie. Books were either history, and true, or 'poetry' which might be invented, but had to conform to strict principles. Don Quixote tells the story of a poor nobleman, addled from reading too many books on chivalry, who deludes himself that he is a knight errant and sets off to put the world to rights. The book was hugely entertaining, broke the existing rules, devised a new set and, in the process, created a new, modern hybrid form we know today as the novel. The Man Who Invented Fiction explores Cervantes's life and the world he lived in, showing how his life and influences converged in his work, and how his work - especially Don Quixote - radically changed the nature of literature and created a new way of viewing the world. Finally, it explains how that worldview went on to infiltrate art, politics and science, and how the world today would be unthinkable without it.
400 years after the publication of Don Quixote (1605-15), William Egginton reveals how Cervantes came to invent what we now call fiction, and how fiction changed the world
Egginton's well-informed history of 16th-century Spanish life, politics, and culture makes for an engrossing read Kirkus 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...an entertaining and thought-provoking reading of Cervantes's masterpiece Publisher's Weekly A revered classic here becomes strikingly new again. This belongs in public libraries where literary criticism and biography find eager readers Booklist We need books like this: not-purely-academic studies that could reinvigorate contemporary fiction-the idea of what contemporary fiction is or could be-by intervening in the past Flavorwire
William Egginton is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and chair of the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures at Johns Hopkins University. Egginton is the author six highly praised books, including How the World Became a Stage, and writes for the digital salon Arcade, published by Stanford University, he has written popular essays for The Stone, an online forum for contemporary philosophers published by the New York Times. He is fluent in English, German, Spanish, French, and Italian. Egginton lives in Baltimore and in Vienna, Austria.