Who Wrote Don Quixote?



"Who Wrote Don Quixote?"


Francis Carr

Francis Carr, Director of the Shakespeare Authorship Information Centre, 9 Clermont Court, Clermont Road, Brighton BN1 6SS England.

No attention has been paid to the date of Don Quixote's publication in Madrid in 1605, only six years after the fourth Armada of 1599. An important element in this work, seldom mentioned by critics, is its suprising lack of animosity towards England. If it had appeared as an English novel in Spain, everyone would have been understandably prejudiced against it. It took a long time to win the lasting admiration of the Spaniards. If it had carried an English name on its title page, it would have immediately aroused hostility among critics and the general public. Allowing a Spanish author to present this novel as his own work, Bacon thus gave this subtly pro-English book the best possible chance of being read and accepted in Spain without prejudice. Don Quixote should be regarded as an instrument of reconciliation between Spain and England, two great countries kept apart by war and the threat of war for five decades. Distrust and hatred of the foreigner had caused the deaths of innocent men in both counties. Now was the time for peace and good-will, a policy that James I keenly pursued. Indeed the complete absence of anything even remotely critical of the English in itself establishes Don Quixote as an important milestone in Anglo-Spanish relations. At the same time in England, Don Quixote, read and enjoyed by a large public in the seventeenth century, acted in the same way as a healer of the wide gulf between the two countries as there is nothing in the book which is hostile towards Spain: and nothing is said about Spanish hatred of the English. When Don Quixote appeared in Madrid and in London, the great Shakespeare plays appeared on the London stage. When the English plays and the Spanish novel are looked at together, a clear picture emerges: the creation of a pan-European literary master-plan. The greatest, most famous play about Denmark is Hamlet. The greatest plays about Italy are Romeo and Julliet, The Merchant of Venice, and Othello, the Moor of Venice. The greatest play about Rome is Julius Caesar. The greatest play about Egypt and its absorption into the Roman empire is Antony and Cleopatra. The greatest plays about England are the Shakespeare history dramas. All these plays are the work of one man, and all of them were written under a pen name. One leading European nation is conspicuous by its absence in this catalogue of masterpieces. There is no world-famous play about Spain, which is on the same level 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 of Europe, found that this area lacked an appropriate masterpiece, an epic story to match those of Greece, Rome, Italy, and Great Britain. In a letter to Lord Burleigh written in 1592 Bacon declared "I have taken all knowledge to be my province." A play would not have been the right format for a Spanish epic. Needing a larger canvas he chose to write a novel.