Cervantes and Shakespeare lived during the birth of the modern world, when their nations were in constant conflict as Spain began to decline and England to rise as world powers. Despite the conflict, flourishing new developments in art and literature crossed borders. Don Quixote was known in Shakespeare’s England, and Dr. Rosenbach wrote his dissertation on some of its influences there. Both writers were among his favorites and well-represented in our collections.
|Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de La Mancha. En Madrid: por Juan de la Cuesta, 1605. C2 .C419d 605. Collection of the Rosenbach.|
|Alonso Fernandez de Avellaneda (pseudonym). Segundo tomo del ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha …En Tarragona: en casa de Felipe Roberto, 1614. C2 .F363s. Collection of the Rosenbach.|
|Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, autograph document signed.Ecija, Andalusia, 6 February 1589. C2 .C419 MS2. Collection of the Rosenbach.|
|William Shakespeare, The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, as it is now acted at his highness the Duke of York’s theater.London: Printed by Andr. Clark for J. Martyn and H. Herringman ..., 1676. EL1.S527 ha676. Collection of the Rosenbach.|
|William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s King Lear: As altered by N. Tate, newly revised by J. P. Kemble… London: Printed by C. Lowndes, [ca. 1796]. EL1 .S527le 796. Collection of the Rosenbach.|
Although now hailed as one of Shakespeare’s greatest works, King Lear’s story of a distressed and disabled monarch has had a troubled past. Seventeenth-century audiences, fresh from the English Civil War and the exile of Charles II, did not appreciate the tale of a fallen monarch, and in 1681, Nahum Tate reworked the play as a love story in which Cordelia survives and King Lear resumes the throne.
Here's to both Cervantes and Shakespeare, two towering literary figures whose work has reached readers and audiences for four centuries; may they continue to entertain and inspire generations to come.
Elizabeth Fuller is the Librarian at the Rosenbach and the co-author of this post.