What evidence is there that Miguel de Cervantes wrote 'Don Quixote'?Little indeed. Not only do we know little of his life;the standard of hisWork,apart from 'Quixote',is low. Most of his books remain unpublished abroad.What do we know about Thomas Shelton,whose translation into English hasWon the praise of literary historians ever since it appeared in1612? What do we know of Cid Hamet Benengeli,the Arab historian who,we Are told,is the real author?
Until now no proper attempt has been made to place Quixote in the widerContext of the great plays of this period. And no-one has paid attentionTo the Shelton version,which is seldom read today.
We start with an examination of the actual publication of Quixote in Madrid andLondon in 1605 and 1612. Then we move,in the story itself,from La Mancha toSussex,from Madrid to London,to the court of Queen Elizabeth. Two characters inQuixote,who always appear together,are Queen Madasima and Master Elisabat.Other name s which invite scrutiny include Thomas Cecial(almost Cecil),Friston,an odd name for the Devil,and Pyramus and Thisbe,which make us think ofoShakespeare.
'Don Quixote' is full of pithy statements,epigrams and mock proverbs which can be found in theShakespeare plays. 'I was born free. The naked truth. Comparisons are odious. Time out of mind.' and many ,many more. 70 quotations are set out in table form in the book.
But why would anyone write a very long novel and use the name of a struggling Spanish author? Why the secrecy? The sixth rule of the Rosicrucians was that that membersShould remain anonymous for a hundred years. The first rule was that they should heal the sick.The leading member of this secret society in England at this time was Francis Bacon.
No attention has been paid to the date of Quixote's publication in Madrid in 1605,only sixYears after the fourth Armada of 1599. An important element in this work,seldom mentioned,Is its surprising lack of animosity towards England. If it had appeared in Spain as anEnglish book,everyone would have been understandably prejudiced against it. It took a longTime to win the lasting admiration of the Spaniards. Allowing a Spanish author to presentThis book as his own work,Bacon gave this subtly pro-English novel the best possible chanceOf being accepted in Spain without prejudice.
'Don Quixote' should be regarded as an instrument of reconciliation between Spain andEngland,two great countries kept apart by war and the threat of war for five decades.Distrust and hatred of the foreigner had caused the death of innocent men in both countries.Now was the time for peace and good will,a policy that James I keenly pursued. In EnglandQuixote acted as a healer of the wide gulf between the two countries.
When "Don Quixote" appeared in Madrid and London,the great Shakespeare plays were beingActed on the London stage. When the English plays and the Spanish novel are looked atTogether,a clear picture emerges: the creation of a pan-European literary master-plan.The greatest play about Denmark is 'Hamlet'. The greatest plays about Italy are 'Romeo andJuliet','The Merchant of Venice' and 'Othello,the Moor of Venice'. The greatest play aboutRome is 'Julius Caesar'. The greatest play about Egypt is 'Antony and Cleopatra'. The greatestPlays about England are the Shakespeare history dramas. All these plays are the work of one man,Written under a pen-name. There is no world-famous play about Spain which is on the sameLevel of genius as the plays just mentioned. But there is one great novel about Spain which is just as famous throughout the world - 'Don Quixote'. Like all the Shakespeare plays,this appeared under an alias. Bacon,casting his eye over the whole ofEurope,found that this area lacked an appropriate masterpiece,an epic story to match those ofGreece and Rome and Great Britain.
In a letter to Lord Burleigh written in 1592,Bacon declared "I have taken all knowledge to be myProvince." A play would not have been the right format for a Spanish epic. Needing a largerCanvas,he chose to write a work of fiction.