martha n wasserman, paradise valley, az, molm, dale’s passing in 2008
asst. beatrice williams-rude
mitch leigh wrote the score for la mancha
wasserman wrote the book man of la mancha, and I, Don Quixote, in the late 1950s.
lyricist joe darion
(wh auden was the first lyricist, arguing w wasserman)
The reason that Cervantes left Spain is unknown. Possible reasons include that he was a “student” of the same name, a “sword-wielding fugitive from justice”, or fleeing from a royal warrant of arrest, for having wounded a certain Antonio de Sigura in a duel.Like many young Spanish men who wanted to further their careers, Cervantes left for Italy. In Rome, he focused his attention on Renaissance art, architecture, and poetry – knowledge of Italian literature is discernible in his work. He found “a powerful impetus to revive the contemporary world in light of its accomplishments”. Thus, Cervantes’ stay in Italy, as revealed in his later works, might be in part a desire for a return to an earlier period of the Renaissance.
By 1570, Cervantes had enlisted as a soldier in a regiment of the Spanish Navy Marines, Infantería de Marina, stationed in Naples, then a possession of the Spanish crown. He was there for about a year before he saw active service. In September 1571, Cervantes sailed on board the Marquesa, part of the galley fleet of the Holy League that, under the command of John of Austria, the illegitimate half brother of Spain’s Phillip II, defeated the Ottoman fleet on 7 October 1571, in the Battle of Lepanto. (The Holy League was a coalition of Pope Pius V, Spain, the republics of Venice and of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy, the Knights Hospitaller in Malta, and others.)
Though taken with fever, Cervantes refused to stay below. He demanded to take part in the battle, saying he would rather die for his God and king than keep under cover. He fought and received three gunshot wounds—two in the chest and one that rendered his left arm useless. In Journey to Parnassus he said that he “…had lost the movement of the left hand for the glory of the right,” (referring to the success of his writing Don Quixote). Cervantes recounted his conduct in the battle with pride. He believed he had taken part in an event that shaped the course of European history.
After the Battle of Lepanto, Cervantes remained in hospital in Messina, Italy, for about six months, before his wounds healed enough to allow his joining the colors again. From 1572 to 1575, based mainly in Naples, he continued his soldier’s life: he participated in expeditions to Corfu and Navarino, and saw the fall of Tunis and La Goulette to the Turks in 1574.:220
On 6 or 7 September 1575, Cervantes set sail on the galley Sol from Naples to Barcelona, with letters of commendation to the king from the Duke of Sessa. On the morning of 26 September, as the Sol approached the Catalan coast, it was attacked by Ottoman pirates and he was taken to Algiers, which had become one of the main and most cosmopolitan cities of the Ottoman Empire, and was kept there in captivity between the years of 1575 and 1580. After five years as a slave in Algiers, and four unsuccessful escape attempts, he was ransomed by his parents and the Trinitarians and returned to his family in Madrid. Not surprisingly, this traumatic period of Cervantes’ life supplied subject matter for several of his literary works, notably the Captive’s tale in Don Quixote and the two plays set in Algiers – El trato de Argel (Life in Algiers) and Los baños de Argel (The Dungeons of Algiers) – as well as episodes in a number of other writings, although never in straight autobiographical form.