- The Washington Times - Friday, December 24, 2004

MADRID — Cities on five continents will hold a series of cultural events next year in honor of Don Quixote, 400 years after Miguel de Cervantes brought the character to life, Spanish Culture Minister Carmen Calvo announced this week.

Many consider Cer-vantes’ work “The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha” — one of the earliest novels written in a modern European language — to be the greatest Spanish book in history.

The masterpiece will be celebrated with events throughout Spain, and also in cities such as Dallas; Mexico City; Paris; Brussels; Oran, Algeria; and St. Petersburg. Each city will host a string of plays, debates, exhibitions, concerts and films.

The first edition of “Don Quixote” came off a print- ing press in Madrid on Dec. 20, 1604. The book was made available to the public on Jan. 16, 1605, soon becoming one of the world’s first best sellers.

“Don Quixote” influenced hundreds of writers over the centuries and is still widely read today.

The adjective “quixotic,” meaning “idealistic and impractical,” comes from the main character’s name.

Next year’s anniversary events will cost the Spanish government more than 30 million euros ($40 million).

Mr. Calvo called the international aspect of the Don Quixote celebrations “an extraordinary opportunity for understanding between peoples” and “a magnificent alibi for reinforcing cooperation with Latin America.”

The first foreign exhibition is set to open in Bologna, Italy, during a book fair scheduled for April 13 through 16.

Other celebrations will follow, including an exhibit in Dallas that will feature a collection of carpets illustrating the countrysides of Cervantes’ novel.

A travelling exhibit titled “400 Years of Don Quixote Around the World” will feature publicity paintings, drawings and engravings for the novel and is slated to tour Spanish cultural centers and international book fairs.

The Spanish Culture Ministry has also inaugurated a Don Quixote Web site, linked to www.mcu.es.

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