Page 11. " a child born, after all, in prison "

   Before finding success with Don Quixote's publication Cervantes lived on the margins of polite society, variously employed and occasionally bankrupt.  It is unclear whether this line in the book's prologue, describing its conception, refers to one of his two imprisonments for supposed financial trickery, his spell inside wrongly suspected of involvement in a murder, or his rather more heroic period as a prisoner of war captured by Algerian corsairs.

Page 12. " Xenophon and Zoilus or Zeuxis "

 

Xenophon of Athens, a Greek solider and historical scholar (435-354 BC)

Zoilus, a Greek grammarian whom Cervantes, as many others, dubs a 'slanderer' for his acerbic attacks on the writings of Homer (400-320 BC)

Zeuxis the Greek painter who flourished in the late fifth century BC - according to legend his paintings were able to literally fool the eye, but none survived the Classical period (See note to page 706)

 

Page 25. " a village in La Mancha, the name of which I cannot quite recall "
Argamasilla de Alba
Creative Commons AttributionArgamasilla de Alba - Credit: M.Peinado

   The question of which village in particular Cervantes refers to here has been a subject of some dispute.  In a later chapter it is explained that the tale's narrator leaves Quixotes village nameless "so that all the towns and villages of La Mancha could fight amongst themselves for the right to adopt him and make him their own son" (page 980) - which is precisely what they did, and are still doing today.

   Argamasilla de Alba (pictured) has long been a popular choice, apparently due to Cervantes' one-time imprisonment there.  However, a late charge has been made by the village of Villanueva de los Infantes, identified in a 2004 study by academics at Complutense University who tried to calculate Quixote's movements based on how far his old nag could have travelled in a day.

   Whether any such claim should be credited, and regardless of whether Cervantes had a real village in mind at all, the continuing debate is a testament to the enduring power of his fictional creation.

 

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