In the early seventeenth century, a crippled, graying, almost toothless veteran of Spain's wars against the Ottoman Empire published a book. It was the story of a poor nobleman, his brain addled from reading too many books of chivalry, who deludes himself that he is a knight errant and sets off on hilarious adventures. That book, Don Quixote, went on to sell more copies than any other book beside the Bible, making its author, Miguel de Cervantes, the single most-read author in human history. Cervantes did more than just publish a bestseller, though. He invented a way of writing. This book is about how Cervantes came to create what we now call fiction, and how fiction changed the world.


The Man Who Invented Fiction explores Cervantes's life and the world he lived in, showing how his influences converged in his work, and how his work--especially Don Quixote--radically changed the nature of literature and created a new way of viewing the world. Finally, it explains how that worldview went on to infiltrate art, politics, and science, and how the world today would be unthinkable without it.



Cervantes: The Man Who Invented Fiction

Tuesday January 17, 2017
07:00 pm

Tags: Event






In his bestseller The Man Who Invented Fiction: How Cervantes Ushered in the Modern World, Professor William Egginton explores Cervantes's life and the world he lived in, examining the ways his writing fundamentally changed literature, and how it provided a unique way of viewing the world. Egginton, translators Edith Grossman and Natasha Wimmer, and author Álvaro Enrigue (Sudden Death) explored Cervantes’s impact on not only fiction, but society as we know it.


Presented in partnership with Instituto Cervantes.


This event took place at Instituto Cervantes, 211 E 49th St between Second and Third Aves, New York.



William Egginton is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and a professor of German and Romance languages and literatures at the Johns Hopkins University. His highly praised academic books include How the World Became a Stage, The Theater of Truth, and The Philosopher's Desire, and he has coedited several other volumes. He has written for the New York Times' online forum The Stone, and regularly writes for Stanford University's Arcade. The Man Who Invented Fiction is an Amazon bestseller, and has been described as “engrossing” (Kirkus) and “an entertaining and thought-provoking reading of Cervantes's masterpiece” (Publisher’s Weekly).


Edith Grossman is one of the most important translators of Latin American fiction in the past century, and into the 21st, translating the works of Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, Mayra Montero, Augusto Monterroso, Jaime Manrique, Julián Ríos, Álvaro Mutis, and of Miguel de Cervantes. In 2006 she received the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation, and in 2010 she was awarded the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Translation Prize.


Álvaro Enrigue is the award winning author of four novels and two books of short stories. Born in Guadelajara, Mexico, he lives in New York and is a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University. His published works in translation include Hypothermia (2013) and Sudden Death (2016). Enrigue is recipient of the 1996 Joaquín Mortiz Prize, a 2009 Rockefeller Foundation Residence Fellowship, a 2011 Cullman Center Fellowship, and the 2013 Herralde Novel Prize.


Natasha Wimmer is an American translator who is best known for her translations of Roberto Bolaño’s works from Spanish to English. She grew up in Iowa and also spent a few years as a child in Madrid. Wimmer attended Harvard University and studied Spanish literature. After college she began to work for Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, as an assistant and later as a managing editor, where she happened upon Bolaño’s Savage Detectives. Bolaño’s translator was too busy at the time to work on this project and Wimmer was thrilled to take it on herself. Her translation was incredibly well-received. She has since gone on to translate several of Bolaño’s works as well as the work of Nobel Prize-winner Mario Vargas Llosa. In 2007 she received an NEA Translation Grant, in 2009 she won the PEN Translation Prize, and she has also received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her translation of Bolaño’s 2666 also won the National Book Award’s Best Novel of the Year. She is a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and teaches translation seminars at Princeton University. She lives in New York City.