Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) was a soldier, a civil servant, a playwright, and a poet. He was kidnapped by pirates and held prisoner for almost five years. Later in life, he turned to writing novels, and through his masterpiece Don Quixote, he became the most celebrated and important figure in Spanish literature. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at Cervantes’ incredible life and his most indelible creations, including the ingenious (and deluded) knight, his trusty squire, and the blurry landscape where windmills are giants and life is a romantic adventure..
With a strong claim to be the first novel in history, the Japanese classic The Tale of Genji (ca. 1001-1012), by Murasaki Shikibu, or Lady Murasaki, is one of the world’s greatest literary masterpieces. But who was Lady Murasaki, and what compelled her to write this story of an idealized prince and his many lovers? How innovative was she? And do the intrigues of the imperial Japanese courts from a thousand years ago still have the power to fascinate, entertain, and instruct us today?