Miguel de Cervantes

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Time ripens all things. No man is born wise.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (29 September 154723 April 1616) was a Spanish novelist, poet and playwright. He is best known for his novel Don Quixote, or Don Quijote de la Mancha, which is considered by many to be the first modern novel, one of the greatest works in Western literature, and the greatest of the Spanish language.

Quotes[edit]

Novelas ejemplares (1613)[edit]

Novelas ejemplares [Exemplary Novels] is a series of twelve novellas written between 1590 and 1612, the collection was published in Madrid in 1613.

Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605–1615)[edit]

By a small sample we may judge of the whole piece.
This famous work has been translated into English by many authors, and an attempt will be made to source the translations which are used here.

Prologue[edit]

  • A father may have a child who is ugly and lacking in all the graces, and the love he feels for him puts a blindfold over his eyes so that he does not see his defects but considers them signs of charm and intelligence and recounts them to his friends as if they were clever and witty.
  • You are a king by your own fireside, as much as any monarch in his throne.
  • I was so free with him as not to mince the matter.
  • They can expect nothing but their labor for their pains.

Part I[edit]

Book I[edit]
  • En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no hace mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.
    • In some village in La Mancha, whose name I do not care to recall, there dwelt not so long ago a gentleman of the type wont to keep an unused lance, an old shield, a skinny old horse, and a greyhound for racing.
      • Ch. 1.
  • As ill-luck would have it.
    • Ch. 2.
  • Which I have earned with the sweat of my brows.
    • Ch. 4.
Can we ever have too much of a good thing?
  • By a small sample we may judge of the whole piece.
    • Ch. 4.
  • The brave man carves out his fortune, and every man is the son of his own works.
    • Ch. 4.
  • Put you in this pickle.
    • Ch. 5.
  • He had a face like a benediction.
    • Ch. 6.
  • Can we ever have too much of a good thing?
    • Ch. 6.
  • The charging of his enemy was but the work of a moment.
    • Ch. 8.
Book II[edit]
  • Those two fatal words, Mine and Thine.
    • Ch. 3.
  • The eyes those silent tongues of Love.
    • Ch. 3.
There's not the least thing can be said or done, but people will talk and find fault.
  • There's not the least thing can be said or done, but people will talk and find fault.
    • Ch. 4.
  • Without a wink of sleep.
    • Ch. 4.
Book III[edit]
  • It is a true saying that a man must eat a peck of salt with his friend before he knows him.
    • Ch. 1.
  • Fair and softly goes far.
    • Ch. 2.
  • No limits but the sky.
    • Ch. 3.
Fear is sharp-sighted, and can see things underground, and much more in the skies.
  • To give the devil his due.
    • Ch. 3.
  • Plain as the nose on a man's face.
    • Ch. 4.
  • Let me leap out of the frying-pan into the fire; or, out of God's blessing into the warm sun.
    • Ch. 4.
  • You are taking the wrong sow by the ear.
    • Ch. 4.
  • Bell, book, and candle.
    • Ch. 4.
  • You're leaping over the hedge before you come to the stile.
    • Ch. 4.
  • Let the worst come to the worst.
    • Ch. 5.
  • You are come off now with a whole skin.
    • Ch. 5.
  • Fear is sharp-sighted, and can see things underground, and much more in the skies.
    • Ch. 6.
  • That's the nature of women ... not to love when we love them, and to love when we love them not.
    • Ch. 6.
  • Ill luck, you know, seldom comes alone.
    • Ch. 6.
  • Why do you lead me a wild-goose chase?
    • Ch. 6.
  • I find my familiarity with thee has bred contempt.
    • Ch. 6.
  • The more thou stir it, the worse it will be.
    • Ch. 6.
  • Now had Aurora displayed her mantle over the blushing skies, and dark night withdrawn her sable veil.
    • Ch. 6.
  • I tell thee, that is Mambrino's helmet.
    • Ch. 7.
  • Give me but that, and let the world rub; there I'll stick.
    • Ch. 7.
  • Sure as a gun.
    • Ch. 7.
  • Experience, the universal Mother of Sciences.
    • Ch. 7.
  • Sing away sorrow, cast away care.
    • Ch. 8.
  • Thank you for nothing.
    • Ch. 8.
  • After meat comes mustard; or, like money to a starving man at sea, when there are no victuals to be bought with it.
    • Ch. 8.
  • Of good natural parts and of a liberal education.
    • Ch. 8.
  • Would puzzle a convocation of casuists to resolve their degrees of consanguinity.
    • Ch. 8.
  • Let every man mind his own business.
    • Ch. 8.
  • Murder will out.
    • Ch. 8.
  • Thou art a cat, and a rat, and a coward.
    • Ch. 8.
  • Those who'll play with cats must expect to be scratched.
    • Ch. 8.
  • Raise a hue and cry.
    • Ch. 8.
  • To withdraw is not to run away, and to stay is no wise action when there is more reason to fear than to hope. 'Tis the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket. And though I am but a clown, or a bumpkin, as you may say, yet I would have you to know I know what is what, and have always taken care of the main chance...
  • I know what's what, and have always taken care of the main chance.
    • Ch. 9.
  • The ease of my burdens, the staff of my life.
    • Ch. 9.
  • I am almost frighted out of my seven senses.
    • Ch. 9.
  • Within a stone's throw of it.
    • Ch. 9.
  • The very remembrance of my former misfortune proves a new one to me.
    • Ch. 10.
  • Absence, that common cure of love.
    • Ch. 10.
  • From pro's and con's they fell to a warmer way of disputing.
    • Ch. 10.
  • Let us make hay while the sun shines.
    • Ch. 11.
  • I never thrust my nose into other men's porridge. It is no bread and butter of mine; every man for himself, and God for us all.
    • Ch. 11.
  • Little said is soonest mended.
    • Ch. 11.
  • A close mouth catches no flies.
    • Ch. 11.
  • She may guess what I should perform in the wet, if I do so much in the dry.
    • Ch. 11.
  • You are a devil at everything, and there is no kind of thing in the 'versal world but what you can turn your hand to.
    • Ch. 11.
  • It will grieve me so to the heart, that I shall cry my eyes out.
    • Ch. 11.
  • Thou hast seen nothing yet.
    • Ch. 11.
  • My memory is so bad that many times I forget my own name.
    • Ch. 11.
  • 'Twill grieve me so to the heart that I shall cry my eyes out.
    • Ch. 11.
  • Ready to split his sides with laughing.
    • Ch. 13.
Book IV[edit]
I must speak the truth, and nothing but the truth.
  • My honor is dearer to me than my life.
    • Ch. 1.
  • Delay always breeds danger.
    • Ch. 2.
  • Think before thou speakest.
    • Ch. 3.
  • Let us forget and forgive injuries.
    • Ch. 3.
  • I must speak the truth, and nothing but the truth.
    • Ch. 3.
  • They must needs go whom the Devil drives.
    • Ch. 4.
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    • Ch. 4.
  • More knave than fool.
    • Ch. 4.
  • I can tell where my own shoe pinches me; and you must not think, sir, to catch old birds with chaff.
    • Ch. 5.
  • I never saw a more dreadful battle in my born days.
    • Ch. 8.
  • Here is the devil-and-all to pay.
    • Ch. 10.
  • I begin to smell a rat.
    • Ch. 10.
  • I will take my corporal oath on it.
    • Ch. 10.
  • The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
    • Ch. 10.
  • Let none presume to tell me that the pen is preferable to the sword.
    • Ch. 10.
  • It is past all controversy that what costs dearest is, and ought to be, most valued.
    • Chap 11.
  • It is a common proverb, beauteous princess, that diligence is the mother of good fortune.
    • Ch. 19.
  • The bow cannot always stand bent, nor can human frailty subsist without some lawful recreation.
    • Ch. 21.
  • I would have nobody to control me; I would be absolute: and who but I? Now, he that is absolute can do what he likes; he that can do what he likes can take his pleasure; he that can take his pleasure can be content; and he that can be content has no more to desire. So the matter 's over; and come what will come, I am satisfied.
    • Ch. 23.

Part II (1615)[edit]

Book III[edit]
  • It is not the hand but the understanding of a man that may be said to write.
    • Book III, Author's Preface
Every man is as Heaven made him, and sometimes a great deal worse.
  • When the head aches, all the members partake of the pains.
    • Ch. 2.
  • History is in a manner a sacred thing, so far as it contains truth; for where truth is, the supreme Father of it may also be said to be, at least, inasmuch as concerns truth.
    • Ch. 3.
  • He has done like Orbaneja, the painter of Ubeda, who, being asked what he painted, answered, "As it may hit;" and when he had scrawled out a misshapen cock, was forced to write underneath, in Gothic letters, "This is a cock."
    • Ch. 3.
  • There are men that will make you books, and turn them loose into the world, with as much dispatch as they would do a dish of fritters.
    • Ch. 3.
  • "There is no book so bad," said the bachelor, "but something good may be found in it."
    • Ch. 3.
  • Cada uno es como Dios le hizo, y aún peor muchas veces.
    • Every man is as Heaven made him, and sometimes a great deal worse.
    • Ch. 4.
  • Spare your breath to cool your porridge.
    • Ch. 5.
  • The best sauce in the world is hunger.
    • Ch. 5.
The pen is the tongue of the soul; as are the thoughts engendered there, so will be the things written.
  • Journey over all the universe in a map, without the expense and fatigue of traveling, without suffering the inconveniences of heat, cold, hunger, and thirst.
    • Ch. 6.
  • The fair sex.
    • Ch. 6.
  • A little in one's own pocket is better than much in another man's purse. 'Tis good to keep a nest egg. Every little makes a mickle.
    • Ch. 7.
  • Remember the old saying, "Faint heart ne'er won fair lady."
    • Ch. 10.
  • Forewarned forearmed.
    • Ch. 10.
  • As well look for a needle in a bottle of hay.
    • Ch. 10.
  • There is a remedy for all things but death, which will be sure to lay us out flat some time or other.
    • Ch. 10.
  • Are we to mark this day with a white or a black stone?
    • Ch. 10.
  • I'll turn over a new leaf.
    • Ch. 13.
  • Let every man look before he leaps.
    • Ch. 14.
  • La pluma es la lengua del alma: cuales fueren los conceptos que en ella se engendraren, tales serán sus escritos.
    • The pen is the tongue of the soul; as are the thoughts engendered there, so will be the things written.
      • Ch. 16, as translated by Henry Edward Watts (1895).
  • Marriage is a noose.
    • Ch. 19.
  • There are only two families in the world, the Haves and the Have-Nots.
    • Ch. 20.
  • Love and War are the same thing, and stratagems and policy are as allowable in the one as in the other.
    • Ch. 21.
  • A private sin is not so prejudicial in this world as a public indecency.
    • Ch. 22.
Tomorrow will be a new day.
  • There is no love lost, sir.
    • Ch. 22.
  • He has an oar in every man's boat, and a finger in every pie.
    • Ch. 22.
  • Tell me thy company, and I'll tell thee what thou art.
    • Ch. 23.
  • Comparisons are odious.
    • Ch. 23.
  • I say patience, and shuffle the cards.
    • Ch. 23.
  • The proof of the pudding is the eating.
    • Ch. 24.
  • Tomorrow will be a new day.
    • Ch. 26.
  • He is as like one, as one egg is like another.
    • Ch. 27.
  • You can see farther into a millstone than he.
    • Ch. 28.
  • Sancho Panza by name, is my own self, if I was not changed in my cradle.
    • Ch. 30.
  • "Sit there, clod-pate!" cried he; "for let me sit wherever I will, that will still be the upper end, and the place of worship to thee."
    • Ch. 31.
  • Building castles in the air, 36 and making yourself a laughing-stock.
    • Ch. 31.
  • It is good to live and learn.
    • Ch. 32.
Honesty is the best policy, I will stick to that.
  • Great persons are able to do great kindnesses.
    • Ch. 32.
  • Since Don Quixote de la Mancha is a crazy fool and a madman, and since Sancho Panza, his squire, knows it, yet, for all that, serves and follows him, and hangs on these empty promises of his, there can be no doubt that he is more of a madman and a fool than his master.
    • Ch. 33 (translation by J. M. Cohen, 1950).
  • He is as mad as a March hare.
    • Ch. 33.
  • I must follow him through thick and thin.
    • Ch. 33.
  • There is no love lost between us.
    • Ch. 33.
  • In the night all cats are gray.
    • Ch. 33.
  • All is not gold that glisters.
    • Ch. 33.
  • I can look sharp as well as another, and let me alone to keep the cobwebs out of my eyes.
    • Ch. 33.
  • I was ever charitable and good to the poor, and scorn to take the bread out of another man's mouth. On the other side, by our Lady, they shall play me no foul play. I am an old cur at a crust, and can sleep dog-sleep when I list. I can look sharp as well as another, and let me alone to keep the cobwebs out of my eyes. I know where the shoe wrings me. I will know who and who is together. Honesty is the best policy, I will stick to that. The good shall have my hand and heart, but the bad neither foot nor fellowship. And in my mind, the main point of governing, is to make a good beginning.
    • Ch. 33, as translated by Pierre Antoine Motteux in The History of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (1701)
    • Variant translations:
    • I'm kind-hearted by nature, and full of compassion for the poor; there's no stealing the loaf from him who kneads and bakes; and by my faith it won't do to throw false dice with me; I am an old dog, and I know all about 'tus, tus;' I can be wide-awake if need be, and I don't let clouds come before my eyes, for I know where the shoe pinches me; I say so, because with me the good will have support and protection, and the bad neither footing nor access. And it seems to me that, in governments, to make a beginning is everything; and maybe, after having been governor a fortnight, I'll take kindly to the work and know more about it than the field labour I have been brought up to.
    • Honesty's the best policy.
What a man has, so much he's sure of.
  • Time ripens all things. No man is born wise. Bishops are made of men and not of stones.
    • Ch. 33.
  • A good name is better than riches.
    • Ch. 33.
  • I drink when I have occasion, and sometimes when I have no occasion.
    • Ch. 33.
  • An honest man's word is as good as his bond.
    • Ch. 33.
  • Heaven's help is better than early rising.
    • Ch. 34.
  • I have other fish to fry.
    • Ch. 35.
  • There is a time for some things, and a time for all things; a time for great things, and a time for small things.
    • Ch. 35.
  • But all in good time.
    • Ch. 36.
  • Matters will go swimmingly.
    • Ch. 36.
  • Many go out for wool, and come home shorn themselves.
    • Ch. 37.
  • They had best not stir the rice, though it sticks to the pot.
    • Ch. 38.
  • Good wits jump; 45 a word to the wise is enough.
    • Ch. 38.
  • You may as well expect pears from an elm.
    • Ch. 40.
  • Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world.
    • Ch. 42.
  • You cannot eat your cake and have your cake; 48 and store 's no sore.
    • Ch. 43.
  • Diligence is the mother of good fortune.
    • Ch. 43.
  • What a man has, so much he is sure of.
    • Ch. 43.
  • When a man says, "Get out of my house! what would you have with my wife?" there is no answer to be made.
    • Ch. 43.
  • The pot calls the kettle black.
    • Ch. 43.
  • This peck of troubles.
    • Ch. 53.
  • When thou art at Rome, do as they do at Rome.
    • Ch. 54.
  • Many count their chickens before they are hatched; and where they expect bacon, meet with broken bones.
    • Ch. 55.
  • My thoughts ran a wool-gathering; and I did like the countryman who looked for his ass while he was mounted on his back.
    • Ch. 57.
  • Liberty … is one of the most valuable blessings that Heaven has bestowed upon mankind.
    • Ch. 58.
  • As they use to say, spick and span new.
    • Ch. 58.
  • I think it a very happy accident.
    • Ch. 58.
  • I shall be as secret as the grave.
    • Ch. 62.
  • Now, blessings light on him that first invented this same sleep! It covers a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak; it is meat for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, heat for the cold, and cold for the hot. It is the current coin that purchases all the pleasures of the world cheap, and the balance that sets the king and the shepherd, the fool and the wise man, even.
    • Ch. 68.
  • Rome was not built in a day.
    • Ch. 71.
  • The ass will carry his load, but not a double load; ride not a free horse to death.
    • Ch. 71.
  • Never look for birds of this year in the nests of the last.
    • Ch. 74.
Book IV[edit]
  • An honest man's word is as good as his bond.
    • Ch. 34.
  • Good wits jump; a word to the wise is enough.
    • Ch. 37.
  • Diligence is the mother of good fortune, and idleness — its opposite — never brought a man to the goal of any of his best wishes.
    • Ch. 38.
  • What a man has, so much he's sure of.
    • Ch. 38.
  • The pot calls the kettle black.
    • Ch. 38.
  • Mum's the word.
    • Ch. 44.
  • I shall be as secret as the grave.
    • Ch. 62.
  • The ass will carry his load, but not a double load; ride not a free horse to death.
    • Ch. 71.
  • He ... got the better of himself, and that's the best kind of victory one can wish for.
    • Ch. 72.
  • Every man was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
    • Ch. 73.
  • There is a strange charm in the thoughts of a good legacy, or the hopes of an estate, which wondrously alleviates the sorrow that men would otherwise feel for the death of friends.
    • Ch. 74.
  • For if he like a madman lived,
    At least he like a wise one died.
    • Don Quixote's epitaph

unplaced as yet by chapter :[edit]

Fortune leaves always some door open to come at a remedy.
Take care, your worship, those things over there are not giants but windmills.
  • I am almost frighted out of my seven senses.
  • Well, now, there's a remedy for everything except death.
  • Didn't I tell you, Don Quixote, sir, to turn back, for they were not armies you were going to attack, but flocks of sheep?
  • The painter Orbaneja of Ubeda, if he chanced to draw a cock, he wrote under it, "This is a cock," lest the people should take it for a fox.
  • Many count their chickens before they are hatched; and where they expect bacon, meet with broken bones.
  • I find my familiarity with thee has bred contempt.
  • Delay always breeds danger.
  • Fortune leaves always some door open to come at a remedy.
  • I never thrust my nose into other men's porridge. It is no bread and butter of mine; every man for himself, and God for us all.
  • Take care, your worship, those things over there are not giants but windmills.
  • A knight errant who turns mad for a reason deserves neither merit nor thanks. The thing is to do it without cause.
  • In me the need to talk is a primary impulse, and I can't help saying right off what comes to my tongue.
  • I can tell where my own shoe pinches me; and you must not think, sir, to catch old birds with chaff.
  • Let each man say what he chooses; if because of this I am criticized by the ignorant, I shall not be chastised by the learned.
  • "You are a villain and a scoundrel," said Don Quixote, "and you are the one who is vacant and foolish; I have more upstairs than the whore who bore you ever did".

La Gitanilla (The Little Gypsy) (c. 1590–1612; published 1613)[edit]

  • Don't put too fine a point to your wit for fear it should get blunted.
  • My heart is wax molded as she pleases, but enduring as marble to retain.

Quotes about Cervantes[edit]

  • While clearly a masterpiece, Don Quixote suffers from one fairly serious flaw — that of outright unreadability. This reviewer should know, because he has just read it. … Looming like one of the Don's chimerical adversaries, it is a giant...But the giant has a giant weight problem and is elderly, and soft-brained. Reading Don Quixote can be compared to an indefinite visit from your most impossible senior relative, with all his pranks, dirty habits, unstoppable reminiscences, and terrible cronies. When the experience is over, and the old boy checks out at last (on page 846 — the prose wedged tight, with no breaks for dialogue), you will shed tears all right; not tears of relief or regret but tears of pride. You made it, despite all that Don Quixote could do.
    • Martin Amis, in his review of Don Quixote in Atlantic Monthly (March 1986); later in The War Against Cliche (2001)
  • Cervantes, Don Quixote — I read that every year, as some do the Bible.
  • The biography of Cervantes provides an extremely typical example of what could befall a man living during the transition from romantic chivalry to realism. Without knowing this story it is impossible to appreciate Don Quixote sociologically. ... The parodying of chivalry was no new thing in his lifetime ... In Italy, where knighthood was represented to some extent by middle-class elements, the new chivalry did not take itself quite seriously. It was doubtless here, that Cervantes was prepared for his sceptical attitude, here in the home of liberalism and humanism, and it was to Italian literature that he probably owed the first suggestion for his epoch-making joke. His work was not intended, however, merely to take a rise out of the artificial and mechanical novels of fashion, nor to become merely a criticism of out-of-date chivalry, but also to be an indictment of the world of the disenchanted, matter-of-fact reality, in which there was nothing left for an idealist but to dig himself in behind his idée fixe. The novelty in Cervantes' work was, therefore, not the ironic treatment of the chivalrous attitude to life, but the relativizing of the two worlds of romantic idealism and realistic rationalism. What was new was the indissoluble dualism of his world-view, the idea of the impossibility of realizing the idea in the world of reality and of reducing reality to the idea. ... He wavers between the justification of un-wordly idealism and of worldy-wise common sense. From that arises his own conflicting attitude toward his hero. Before Cervantes there had only been good and bad characters, deliverers and traitors, saints and blasphemers, in literature; here the hero is saint and fool in one and the same person.
    • Arnold Hauser, in The Social History of Art (1951), as translated by Stanley Godman, p. 399.

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