96 Man of La Mancha 1605 MIGUEL DE CERVANTES Saavedra's comic-romantic tale Don Quixote de la Mancha is said to have been translated into more languages than any book other than the Bible. Considered by many to be the first modern novel and the prototype for much of the world's fiction, the story of the deranged Don Quixote acting out the literary ideals of chivalry and romance has captured the imaginations of readers since it was published in 1605. Cervantes, born in 1547, the son of a poor doctor, received a limited education and served as a soldier in Italy. He was wounded in the battle of Lepanto, captured on his way back to Spain in 1575, enslaved in Algiers and finally ransomed in 1580. Over the next 20 years he wrote a number of plays and a novel--all unsuccessful. But in 1605, the first part of Don Quixote was published, gaining an immediate popularity that has never waned. Like Malory, Chaucer, even Milton, Cervantes captured the essence of his time; but his language and his vision need little interpretation to be understood by modern readers.