Posts Tagged With: history

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.

Categories: Writing & Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , ,

The Truth About the Irish

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i’m proud to be Irish! My mother hails from there and her family has been there since the 1100’s. I cheer on the Irish soccer team every time they qualify for a major soccer tournament, and I even cry when I hear Soldier’s Song play, which is Ireland’s national anthem. As much as I love Ireland, I don’t intend to dress up in green and wear a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” shirt on St. Paddy’s Day. Why? In my honest opinion, I believe St. Paddy’s Day mocks the Irish more than honors them. Sure, I wear an Irish soccer jersey and sit down to a pint of Guinness, but that’s about it.

The Irish are renowned for enjoying a good pint, but I believe if they weren’t no one would celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as much. It is just another excuse to get super loaded, only to regret it when you see those awful photos leaked all over social media. There is more to the Irish than the green and Guinness – a lot more!

First off, the Irish are a nation born in blood and fire. They’ve endured centuries of invasion and conquest by the Vikings, the French and the British. In fact, they haven’t yet been an independent nation for one hundred years. Many of my ancestors were tortured by British soldiers. I think it’s amazing that the Irish endured so much yet eventually won their battle for home rule.

The Irish have also endured despair internally. The Great Potato Famine saw thousands of Irish citizens having to leave their homeland in search of a better life. Then of course came the troubles in the twentieth century. The fight to obtain home rule, the economic strife of the 1940’s and 1950’s, not to mention all the trouble with the I.R.A. My grandfather experienced some of this as he lost his job on Christmas Eve, and had to move his family to England – a place that didn’t take kindly to the Irish. He loved his country so much, but had no choice but to abandon it for the sake of my grandmother, mother and two aunts. Like him, thousands of Irish folks have had to go abroad, leaving behind their homeland they love so much. There are more Irish citizens living outside of Ireland than in!

Even today economic woes hit the Emerald Isle. With the euro as the official currency, things are really expensive in Ireland. It’s a great place to visit, not so much to live in. So when you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, celebrate the Irish for being such proud, hard-working and enduring warriors, rather than being crazy drinkers. As tiny as the island is, it has left a huge mark in the world. Every European seems to like them. I know because I have an Irish passport and I always get a smile from European customs officers when they see it. Remember this: St. Patrick wasn’t Irish; he was actually British.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , ,

Five Places You Must See in Spain

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Of all the countries I’ve been to, Spain is number one. I’ve lived there for six months and traveled to every major city on the mainland. I don’t know how to explain it, but I feel a special bond with this wonderful country and every time I go there, I always want to go back. In fact, I’m there right now studying Spanish.

One thing to know about Spain is it is like the United States. Each region has its own autonomous government and the people are fiercely proud of their regional culture and history. It’s hard to believe that in a small country like this, the food, architecture and dialect changes from region to region.

Having traveled all over this country, I’d like to mention some places YOU MUST VISIT if you happen to be traveling to Spain this summer. Hope you find these places inspiring!

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1. Seville – if I could recommend just one city to visit in Spain, it would be this. Locally referred to as Sevilla, this is Spain’s fourth largest city and capital of the Andalusia region. It is one where you experience Spain’s moorish history through its architecture. It is also home of flamenco and you can even go to see an authentic flamenco show in a tavern for free; you would have to pay to see one in Madrid and Barcelona and it would be mostly touristy. Seville can be reached via Spain’s high-speed train from Madrid – a two and a half journey, whereas a car ride would be five hours. There are trains every hour between the two cities, so you could even go there for the day if you were staying in Madrid.

2. Toledo – Sorry no pic available for this one. This town makes the perfect day trip from Madrid as the journey takes one hour by car. You can get there via bus or train and if you are on an organized tour of Spain, you’ll likely be stopping here. This was Spain’s first capital city and here there is a museum dedicated to El Greco. The locals pronounce Toledo as To-leh-do, rather than Tol-ee-do. Be forewarned: bring comfortable walking shoes as the streets are cobble-stoned and hilly, so expect a lot of climbing.

3. Oviedo – No pic for this either. this city is located in Spain’s northern region of Asturias. The Asturias is one of the four regions that makes up Green Spain.  When you’re in this city, you feel like you’re in Ireland or Britain due to the climate and rugged hills. This is one city where you won’t be drinking beer or sangria; instead you’ll be delighting on its’ local drink – cider or sidra. This cider is different from any cider drinks you may have tasted in the past. You can barely taste the alcohol and it’s cheap – 3 euro a bottle. What is more interesting is when you order this, the servers pour the bottle into the glass with their arm raised above their heads, so you can see the drink cascade into the glass. What first attracted me to this city was its historical significance. The former Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco, spent part of his earlier life here. In fact, he met and married his wife in Oviedo and this is where is only daughter was born. Call me corny, but I was very interested in Franco.

0184. Córdoba – Located in Spain’s Andalusia, this is a smaller version of Seville in my opinion. It makes an ideal day trip from Seville since it takes 45 minutes to reach it by train. As you can see in the photo, it is known for the Mezquita, a former Moorish mosque. It is wonderful to see, and I recommend visiting it. Córdoba is a great way to experience Andalusia in a small city sense and the narrow, winding streets are perfect for getting lost in. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5. La Coruña – Known locally as A Coruña, this port city is located in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia. This is where Spain meets the Atlantic and has a quaint promenade that runs along the shore. Though this city is not as popular with tourists as its’ neighbor Santiago de Compostela, it is still a great city visit. If you want to experience Spain, you have to go to the north. This city is similar to New England in the fact that it is a maritime city. One sight of note is the Torre de Hercules, which is one of Europe’s oldest light houses. Locals here speak their own distinct language, which is Galician – a mix of Spanish and Portuguese. Galicia actually borders Portugal and the language was once used in medieval Spanish literature. Like the Asturias, Galicia sees a lot more rainy and cooler days than those in the central and southern parts of the country. However, when the central and southern regions of Spain are baking in the summer heat, La Coruña is usually 15 degrees or 59 Fahrenheit. 

Categories: My Travels | Tags: , , , ,

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