No Ordinary Man: The Life and Times of Miguel de Cervantes Paperback – 3 Aug 2006
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About the Author
Donald P. McCrory is former principal lecturer and head of Hispanic studies at the American International University in London. He has contributed to many academic journals and published six volumes of poetry. His translation and in-depth study of Cervantes "The Captive s Tale," one of the stories in Don Quixote, Part One, was published in 1994."
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Top Customer Reviews
If you order it, you'll be receiving a novel related to Estonia and Estonian poetry by Peter Vansittart instead of a book about Miguel Cervantes. It may well be an admirable novel but Cervantes it ain't!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Cervantes' heroic service in the fleet that defeated the Turkish armada in the Bay of Lepanto is certainly interesting, though it might be more thrilling in some other biographer's telling. Nonetheless the reader is grateful for this episode which is apparently well documented in contrast with the sheer speculation required by the rest of Cervantes' life.
By settling for uncertainty, the reader can patiently work his way through the book, but eventually one gets tired of the obvious filling up of pages with surmise and much redundant history, for instance the history of Moorish Africa. This section of the story pieces out the four years of captivity Cervantes spent on the African coast and the efforts of his family to ransom him. The bare facts are interesting for a while; then one becomes impatient, especially after the author wastes a page or two discussing Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and his gulag as well as other extraneous comparisons.
Eventually Cervantes, already with some renown in Spain for his earlier poems, was ransomed from Moorish imprisonment. But on his return to Spain, we are told the following useless information by this biographer:
"We do not know whether Hasan Pasha would have allowed Cervantes to take with him to Constantinople his poems and stories begun in Algiers, but we do know that Cervantes had already written the first half (Books I- III) of La Galatea..."
Exactly how this speculation about an event that never took place -- a trip to Constantinople -- can be of interest or use to the present reader, I have no idea. Obviously it is just so much verbiage to fill out the pages.
There are occasional grammatical errors. Several times I found sentences similar to the following: "Once in his possession, he had to weigh the grain, store it or transport it to be milled."
In a discussion of the Spanish Armada, we come across this useful comment...
"...Phillip's choice carried the logic of the wounded." The author provides this snippet of wisdom confidently although I have never in my long life heard about this particular species of logic. I can't believe an author would actually set such a nonsensical phrase on paper. (Page 140 in Kindle.)
I gave up on this book at that point, halfway through.
Still, I decided to give the book a second chance. I read several pages more about his problems with his accounts for the government, about the grain he collected and the money the government docked him. The boredom was extreme so I realized the book was not going to improve and I gave up again.
In fact, later I even read further. Cervantes became a tax collector so I learned about Spain's trade with the New World and about the problems of the poverty-stricken farmers. This is where I found the following sentence: "Strange as it may sound, the Castilian peasant spent much of his time worrying about the weather, either praying for rain or that the rains would cease."
I did not find that strange at all.
The work of the tax system did not interest me at all, so I finally put the book down and left it there.