What If Shakespeare Had Met Cervantes?

Suppose William Shakespeare and Miguel Cervantes had met each other? I’ve always wondered what that would have been like? Both were prolific writers, and their works are considered to be among the Great Books of literature. If you don’t know Cervantes, he is the author of Don Quixote. A meeting would’ve been possible as both me lived in the 16th and 17th century. Coincidentally, both men died in 1616.

Shakespeare was English and Cervantes was Spanish. Interestingly, both countries were punchy at odds with one another. During both author’s lifetimes, the Spanish Armada occurred. Also both men lived under the rule of monarchies. Spain was rising as an empire, and had already established colonies in the New World. England was getting ready to join the Spanish in conquering overseas territories. Additionally, during Cervantes’ time, King Philip II established Madrid as the new capital of Spain.

The historical and social context of Spain and England influenced their respective writers. A meeting between Shakespeare and Cervantes could have been done, but there were a couple of barriers. One, both men didn’t speak the same language, so there would have been the need to have an interpreter. Secondly, Shakespeare would have likely not wanted to make the trip to Spain to meet Cervantes, and vice versa. They would have had to have met in between, say in France.

So let’s say Cervantes and Shakespeare had agreed to meet in France. Both would come with interpreters, and agree to have dinner. The meeting would likely go as follows:

  • they would have asked each other a series of questions about their homeland and their writing
  • since both writers lived under the rule of a monarchy, they would have compared and contrasted them
  • both would have exchanged a copy of their work
  • after parting ways, both men would have returned home to their respective countries
  • after reading and critiquing each others’ work (interpreter’s help needed), they would have sent each other a letter giving feedback
  • finally, both writers would have written a new story based on their meeting

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m right, but this is the way a meeting between Cervantes and Shakespeare would have gone down. I challenge you to rewrite this scenario. What if Shakespeare had met Cervantes? How would that have gone?

William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Engraved by E.Scriven and published in The Gallery of Portraits with Memoirs encyclopedia, United Kingdom, 1835.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Engraved by E.Scriven and published in The Gallery of Portraits with Memoirs encyclopedia, United Kingdom, 1835.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616). Engraved by E.Mackenzie and published in The Gallery Of Portraits With Memoirs encyclopedia, United Kingdom, 1833.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616). Engraved by E.Mackenzie and published in The Gallery Of Portraits With Memoirs encyclopedia, United Kingdom, 1833.

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