A Collection of Wisdom

Miguel De Cervantes

Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616) is a legendary Spanish novelist, playwright, and poet best known for his novel Don Quixote.

Early Life

Miguel had a very interesting life. At one time, he was a soldier who fought in the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571. Although he received three gunshot wounds in the fight, one of which caused major and permanent damage to his left hand, Miguel continued to do battle in the army, and enjoyed talking about his army experiences throughout his life.

Captured and Enslaved

In 1575, Miguel and his brother were captured by Barbary pirates and sold as slaves in Algiers. At one point, his family sent only enough money to free one of them, and Miguel requested that his brother be freed. After several failed escape attempts by Miguel, his family collected enough money to ransom him five years after he was first captured, although the price was so high that it totally drained the family’s finances.

Back to Spain

Upon arriving back in Spain, Miguel turned his efforts to writing, and produced a novel named La Galatea in 1585, and many plays during the 1580s. By the mid 1580s, Miguel worked as a traveling government grain and oil collector and as a tax collector, although he was often in debt, and was even jailed two times for financial reasons. He also began writing again seriously at some point, although it is uncertain when.

Don Quixote

By 1605, Miguel released the first part of his masterpiece novel Don Quixote (Full title: El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha), which was partially based on his real life, and also drew upon his observations of the many people he encountered in his various duties as a traveling government worker.

The book became an immense success, but Miguel received little pay for it because he sold the rights to it in the publishing deal he made in 1604 before its release. In 1615, he released the second part to Don Quixote (Full title: Segunda Parte del Ingenioso Cavallero Don Quixote de la Mancha), and he died the next year.

Legacy and Other Works

Miguel’s legacy as one of the world’s greatest literary masters lies primarily in Don Quixote. His other notable works include Novelas Ejemplares (1613), Ocho Comedias y Ocho Entremeses Nuevos (1615),and Los Trabaios de Persiles y Sigismunda: Historia Setentrional (published posthumously in 1617).

Miguel De Cervantes Quotes

Note: Most of these are from Don Quixote

Take away the cause, and the effect ceases.

Let every man mind his own business.

It is good to live and learn.

The greatest enemies, and the ones we must mainly combat, are within.

There is no greater folly in the world than for a man to despair.

You are a king by your own fireside, as much as any monarch is in his throne.

The only comfort of the miserable is to have partners in their troubles.

Truth may be stretched, but it can’t be broken, and will always get above falsehood as oil does above water.

Be slow of tongue and quick of eye.

Be brief, for no talk can please when too long.

Being prepared is half the victory.

Those who will with cats must expect to be scratched.

Make hay while the sun is shining.

One swallow alone does not make a summer.

All kinds of beauty don’t inspire love; there is a kind that pleases only the sight, but does not captivate the affections.

I have other fish to fry.

Make yourself into honey, and the flies will eat you up.

Until death, all is life.

With life, many things are remedied.

Hunger is the best sauce in the world.

I never prod my nose into other men’s porridge.

Make it your business to know yourself—which is the most difficult lesson in the world.