Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Get Up Close to Quixote"

The King of Spain honors a radio series about the most famous chivalry novel of our time.

First page of the first edition.


Don Quixote is in the news again. Actually, Cervantes' book, which was inspired by novels like Amadis de Gaula, rarely escapes notice here in Spain, but three activities merit special attention today.

One. Nieves Conconstrina received the King of Spain International Journalism Prize on April 13 for her series Acércate al Quijote (Get Up Close to Quixote) on Radio Nacional de España. The five-minute episodes in the series offer carefully researched details about the work mixed with her mordant sense of humor.

In the first episode, she explains why the book has so many copyediting errors, and in another episode, how no one knows what "duelos y quebrantos" are, something the book says Don Quixote ate every Saturday. (All the possible recipes suggested for the dish sound pretty awful: eggs scrambled with pork fatback or with lamb brains, for example.) You can find MP3 files of the series here, in Spanish of course.

She received the award from King Juan Carlos II himself, and she praised Miguel de Cervantes as "a great chronicler of his time" who ought to have worked for Radio Nacional de España.

Two. Cervantes was interred on April 23, 1616, the same date as William Shakespeare died (but on a different day, since the two countries used different calendars), so April 23 is UNESCO's World Book Day. Madrid's celebrations will include 500 activities at bookstores, libraries, cultural institutions, theaters, and restaurants, plus free tapas at certain bars for patrons with fresh receipts from bookstores.

Three. To celebrate the day, the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid will host the 14th annual Continuous Reading of Quixote. Since it takes 48 hours to read the whole book out loud, the reading actually starts today, April 22, and ends on April 24. Celebrities, students, and volunteers off the street each proclaim a few paragraphs in the reading relay marathon.

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