Sunday, May 20, 2018

New Year's resolution 5: the prison where Cervantes served his time

I finally got around to start reading the massive book of Don Quijote de la Mancha, not in Spanish though. I had already heard that Cervantes has some connection with Seville, but now that I started reading his main piece of art, it also felt natural to check about his time in my hood.

Here is an image of how the prison looked back in the day.
It turns out that he spent about a year in prison here betwen 1597-1598! At the time, the prison, called La Cárcel Real de Sevilla, was situated right in the centre of the city (by the city hall at the end of La Calle Sierpes).

A bit ironically, they have erected his statue there to commomorate him, or his prison spell here...I've passed it by about a million time but never really paid attention to it.

So, what was he doing in the prison? It appears that he was working as a tax collector in Andalucia but got his books cooked up a bit. So he had to pay his debt to the Crown, which meant that he had to collect more money. So he did, but unfortunately to him, the bank where he deposited the money got bankrupted and he lost it all. That ment that he had to serve his time in prison.

Apparently, while there, he was helping his fellow illiterate prisoners by writing letters on their behalf! Also around this time, he started thinking about Don Quijotte as a character.

This travel site talks about Cervantes' Seville in English. There are a few things in town, like this walking tour with tiles around the city (see below). This page has more about him and Seville (in Spanish). 

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Alcalá de Henares, 29 de septiembre de 1547 - † Madrid, 22 de abril de 1616), llamado el «príncipe de los ingenios», escritor.