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Five bonkers ways Spain is commemorating Cervantes
Spain has come up with some unusual ways to celebrate. Photo: Portrait by Juan de Jauregui y Aguilar/Wikimedia

Five bonkers ways Spain is commemorating Cervantes

Fiona Govan · 19 Apr 2016, 16:52

Published: 19 Apr 2016 16:52 GMT+02:00

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The 400 years since the death of Spain’s beloved literary giant has seen his reputation grow into the undisputed greatest man of letters in the history of the nation.

It doesn’t matter that most Spaniards haven’t read Don Quixote, the epic adventure credited with being the first modern novel.

Nor does it matter that the 400-year anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes' death is in danger of being just slightly overshadowed by celebrations of his English rival William Shakespeare, whose death is commemorated on the exact same date (although because of calendar differences back in the day, the two writers actually died some ten days apart).

READ MORE: Nine reasons why Cervantes is better than Shakespeare

There are hundreds of events going on throughout the year across Spain and beyond to commemorate his life and work, from plays to readings to exhibitions.

But there are also some rather unusual ways of marking his achievements.

1. Tweeting his most famous work

Someone thought it would be fun to put the entire work of Don Quixote de la Mancha, the epic tale of Spain’s rather confused knight errant, on Twitter.

So if you can’t quite bring yourself to pick up the volume itself, then help is at hand, for Diego Buendía has spent the last 17 months tweeting out 140 characters of the novel each hour (or rather he designed a computer programme to do it for him).

Check out @elquijote1605 for the 17,000 tweets it takes to share the entire opus.

2. Making a giant Don Quixote in marzipan

Photo: Spanish Sabores.

If you are partial to the taste of almonds, then you will just love the unusual memorial to the author that is being prepared in the city of Toledo.

On Saturday at noon in the plaza Zocodover, the largest ever - yup ever - marzipan representation of Don Quixote will be unveiled. Made from the city’s famous delicacy, confectioners have spent more than 500 hours crafting the representation which measures 3.5 meters in height and weighs 600kgs.

3. Giving him psychoanalysis

Don Quixote goes mad. Engraving by Gustave Doré 

Unfortunately for poor old Don Quixote, psychoanalysis didn’t exist in 1605 when the book was published. Anyone who has read the book may have come to the conclusion that the dear old knight, though mostly harmless, wasn’t quite right in the head.

READ MORE: Seven great ways to celebrate 400 years of Cervantes

Thankfully, one of Spain’s leading psychiatrists has taken time away from his own patients to analyse the character.

Dr Tiburcio Angosto Saura of Vithas Nuestra Señora de Fátima Hospital in Vigo, Galicia has written in a report that "he suffered from depression and psychosis and had he been alive today would undoubtedly have ended up in an asylum". 

 4. Reading it to the lions

Story continues below…

Photo: Fiona Govan

In one of the more bizarre stunts to raise awareness of the Cervantes celebrations, the famous stone lions which stand guard outside Spain’s parliament building have been given reading glasses - supposedly so they can pore over the text of Don Quixote.

If that doesn’t get Spain reading the book that only 21 percent of Spaniards have read in its entirety, what will?

5. Creating food inspired by Don Quixote

Photo: rtve.es

MasterChef, the Spanish popular amateur cooking TV competition and a spin-off from the BBC version, will next week dedicate an entire episode in honour of Cervantes, when contestants will be asked to come up with dishes inspired by the book.

Will Gregg Wallace and John Torode be asking British candidates to do the same to honour Shakespeare?

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

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