- Cervantes – Shakespeare 1616–2016: Contexto · Influencia · Relación / Context · Influence · Relation ed. by José Manuel González
the four hundredth anniversary of the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare—within ten days of each other in 1616—was the occasion for conferences, tributes, and, in general, a reflection on the relationship between the two authors, considered among the greatest in Western literature. This volume of essays by scholars working in Spain, England, and the United States is one of the publications emerging from this year of commemoration, the result of a conference held at the Universidad de Alicante in April 2016.
Much of the commentary on the relationship between cervantes and Shakespeare centers on Cardenio, a play that evidence strongly suggests was written by Shakespeare in collaboration with John Fletcher in 1612–13. This play, based on the story of Cardenio from the 1605 Quijote, is now lost, but a later dramatist, Lewis Theobald, claimed to have revised the play based on manuscript copies of it and staged the adaptation as Double Falsehood in London in 1727. This configuration—the lost Cardenio, its authorship, and its relationship to Double Falsehood—has created a vibrant and interesting debate, especially since 2010 when Double Falsehood was published in the Arden Shakespeare series. Several essays in Cervantes – Shakespeare 1616–2016 examine Cardenio, but the collection is much more than another attempt to solve the puzzles surrounding this lost play, and, even when the essays in the volume do examine Cardenio, they do so in novel and interesting ways.
The twenty-one essays in the collection are divided into four sections, beginning with an introductory section of essays and followed by three [End Page 159] sections entitled "La época de Cervantes y Shakespeare" "Cervantes y Shakespeare: su mundo y su obra" and "Cervantes and Shakespeare beyond Cardenio." Each of the three sections is prefaced by a brief introduction by one of the editors. The first two sections contain essays written in Spanish, while the last one features essays written in English. As José Manuel González notes in his essay in the volume, the use of both English and Spanish, the two languages used—and enriched—by both authors, is entirely appropriate (41). The collection also has a description of the contributors and an index.
The introductory section of essays attempts to frame the discussion of the two authors. Darío Villanueva, in "Cervantes, Shakespeare y las imágenes," discusses the prevalence of the visual in both authors. This is followed by an essay in English by Michael Dobson that narrates, from his perspective as a Shakespeare scholar, how the field has widened its scope to include consideration of Cervantes as an influence on Shakespeare and how the two authors have influenced world literature with their creations of Don Quijote and Hamlet. The aforementioned essay by José Manuel González is the most substantial of this introductory section, as it reviews the history of the comparisons between Cervantes and Shakespeare in the course of providing other parallels between the two authors. The outlier in the section, and indeed the whole collection, is a fictional letter from Shakespeare to Cervantes, authored by Stephen Greenblatt (and translated into Spanish), which tries to answer a question: What would Shakespeare have said to Cervantes if he had had the chance? Such speculations and imaginative reconstructions are not uncommon in the field of Cervantes–Shakespeare comparisons, especially given the missing Cardenio.
The essays in the section titled "La época de Cervantes y Shakespeare" provide information on the age in which both authors lived, which is useful and, in some cases, overlooked by scholars. Such is the case with Armando Alberola Romá's essay entitled "Clima y guerra en tiempos de Cervantes y Shakespeare." Alberola Romá writes that both authors lived in what has come to be called the Little Ice Age and that climatic conditions always had to be taken into consideration in military campaigns. Thus the factor clima was important in the victory...