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❚ medieval ✱ Robert A. Johnson

Cervantes and Shakespeare

occupied almost the same lifespan. they both died on the same day, April 23, 1616, Don Quixote was published in 1605, and the first edition of Hamlet was probably published in 1603 or 1604. It is as if the two men stood back to backā€¦ Cervantes pointed his genius backward and illuminated the medieval consciousness that was just ending in Europe. He constructed Don Quixote, the unwounded, un-self-conscious man of unshakable faith, the man for whom everything works in poetic terms, outside the vicissitudes of reality. Cervantes spoke of the childhood of Western man, man who had not yet suffered the shock of being expelled from the Garden of Eden. No better description of two-dimensional man can be found. Shakespeare looked forward and made a statement about the modern man who was to come. It is to that play that we now turn for insight into three-dimensional man.