In the early 17th century, a crippled, graying, almost toothless veteran of Spain's wars against the Ottoman Empire published a novel. It was the story of a poor nobleman, his brain addled from studying too many novels of chivalry, who deludes himself that he is a knight errant and sets off on hilarious adventures. That story, Don Quixote, went on to sell more copies than any other book beside the Bible, making its author, Miguel de Cervantes, the single most-read author in human history. Cervantes did more than just publish a best seller, though. He invented a way of writing. This story is about how Cervantes came to create what we now call fiction - and how fiction changed the world.
The Man Who Invented Fiction explores Cervantes' life and the world he lived in, showing how his 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.
Four hundred years after Cervantes' death, William Egginton has brought thrilling new meaning to an immortal novel.
"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." (Publishers Weekly)
"William Egginton has written an engaging and enlightening book on the pivotal role of Miguel de Cervantes in the development of western literature. He provides a literary, biographical, and historical overview of Cervantes's life and work in well-written prose mercifully free of jargon, and amply justifies the truth of his wonderfully provocative title. I'm happy to recommend The Man Who Invented Fiction." (Edith Grossman, renowned translator of, among other Spanish language masterpieces, Don Quixote)
"The Man Who Invented Fiction weaves a compelling tapestry of adventures in reading. Told with great panache, William Egginton's presentation combines a unique understanding of Cervantes's life, art, times, and the cultural debates that shaped his revolutionary fiction. It is essential reading." (Marina S. Brownlee, Robert Schirmer Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at Princeton University)
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