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Cervantes did not know Shakespeare's work, but Shakespeare almost certainly knew Cervantes's most famous work, Don Quixote.
It celebrated infinite yearning and thus called for suffering in love — intense, prolonged, agonizing, hopeless, tragic suffering, since reality can never measure up to the poetic ideal.All this sounds very elevated and uplifting to us today.Why did Cervantes and Shakespeare feel a need to criticize the medieval idea of chivalry?Complicating matters further, most scholars now insist that Cervantes actually died on April 22 and was buried on April 23.So let's just say that literature suffered a bad two weeks in spring 1616.By demanding so much of human beings, by holding them to an impossibly high standard of conduct, chivalry lost touch with reality.It threatened to distort the common-sense understanding of down-to-earth human affairs and to unleash the dark side of human nature by pretending that it did not exist.In any case, the world is now commemorating the 400th anniversary of the deaths of Cervantes and Shakespeare.They had more in common than just the sheer greatness of their literary achievements. That meant the calendars in Spain and England were out of sync in 1616, and in fact Shakespeare and Cervantes died 11 days apart. For on that date both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died. At the time, Spain had adopted the new Gregorian calendar, while England was still on the old Julian calendar.