The death and life of Miguel de Cervantes: a novel
This is the story of my death and life, in which fiction and that lesser truth, history, from time to time form a seamless whole.
Speaking is the hero of Stephen Marlowe's brilliant new novel. He is Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: son of a barber-surgeon (always on the run from the bill collector), grandson of a converso(a Jew who chose Christianity over the flames of the Spanish Inquisition), adorer of his own sister (who may not have been his sister after all), brother of one of the most famous spies in recorded history (though the records have mysteriously vanished), prisoner in an Algerian dungeon (following capture by Barbary Pirates), friend to a Faustian eunuch astrologer named Cide Hamete Benegeli (whose missing private parts are miraculously regenerating), and, of course, creator of the most celebrated of all fictional historical novels--The Adventures of Don Quixote de la Mancha.
The facts of Cervantes's life cry out for the epic treatment found in his comic masterpiece. Marlowe gives it to us. From the author of The Lighthouse at the End of the World("a spellbinding novel," said the Los Angeles Timesby a "historical novelist of the first rank," echoed Publishers Weeklyin a starred review) comes a work of exuberant, breathless, headfirst adventure. The Death and Life of Miguel de Cervantesis storytelling at its finest.
The Backdrop is Renaissance Europe, a world alive with creative ferment, triple-crossing intrigue, and the passionate quest for novelty. Lofty tragedy and lyric poetry still reign as queens of the literary arts, but young writers heady with ambition seek live action to give substance to their teeming imaginations. It is scoundrel time, and the novel is in gestation. To enter Cervantes's world, we cross a threshold that is Shakespearean and quixotic into a metaphysical wonderland where time expands to become space and vast vaulted distances bend back on themselves, where the threads of fiction and the strands of history shuttle back and forth in the great loom of the artist's imagination.
Marlowe's Cervantes is a towering creation: flesh and blood and living legend, actor in and creator of the events in his own fantastical life story. He not only survives war. prison, torture, and poverty, he survives death itself, growing inexorably toward the writing of Don Quixote,which would bring both him and his character immortal fame. Profligate, ribald, crammed with coincidences rich, strange, and true, The Death and Life of Miguel de Cervantesgloriously suspends disbelief and triumphantly transcends time, immersing the reader in a tale whose storytelling power enchants and transforms.
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Review: The Death and Life of Miguel de CervantesUser Review - Simon Mcleish - Goodreads
Originally published on my blog here in February 2001. This trendy-at-the-time novel takes the known facts about the life and background of the creator of Don Quixote, adds fantasy and knowing humour ... Read full review
Review: The Death and Life of Miguel de CervantesUser Review - Mishka Zakharin - Goodreads
Stephen Marlowe has a definite flare when it comes to historical fiction. His magical realism often explodes into full-blown, delightfully fanciful fantasy... which, for the most part, is very nice ... Read full review
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