Best known today as the author of Don Quixote - one of the most beloved and widely read novels in the Western tradition - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1617) was a poet and a playwright as well. After some early successes on the Madrid stage in the 1580s, his theatrical career was interrupted by other literary efforts. Yet, eager to prove himself as a playwright, shortly before his death he published a collection of his later plays before they were performed.
With their depiction of captives in North Africa and at the Ottoman court, two of these, The Bagnois of Algiers and The Great Sultana, draw heavily on Cervantes's own experiences as a captive and echo important episodes in Don Quixote. They are set in a Mediterranean world where Spain and its Muslim neighbors clashed repeatedly while still remaining in close contact, with merchants, exiles, captives, soldiers, and renegades frequently crossing over between the two sides. The plays provide revealing insights into Spain's complex perception of the world of Mediterranean Islam,
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