Cervantes, the Journey, and What it Tells Us About Becoming a Writer

Lania Knight 1
  • 1 Creative Writing, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, GL504AZ, , Gloucestershire, UK


The article traces the notion of empathy in fiction writing and how Cervantes’s treatment of characters in Don Quixote initiated a tradition which is ongoing in literature even today. The path of the writer is examined as a means for understanding how a writer must develop empathy for others, beginning with quotes from writers Helene Cixous and Henry James. Next, within the current political context of global upheaval and shift following on from the election of Donald Trump as president of the U.S.A. as well as the vote for Brexit in the U.K., the article argues for the relevance of Cervantes’s novel, not as a dated work of fiction, but as a text relevant both in form and in content for the modern political climate. Finally, the connection is made between fiction writers’ ability to feel empathy for others and create characters which readers will feel empathy for. The article follows on to proclaim the revolutionary and timely role of the fiction writer to help save us from ourselves in a tumultuous political landscape made unpredictable by social media-generated confirmation bias and insularity.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Atwood, Margaret. “Lives of the Poets.” Dancing Girls. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1982. Print.

  • Bashō, Matsuo. The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches. Translated and with an introduction by Nobuyuki Yuasa. London: Penguin, 1972. Print.

  • Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. The Adventures of Don Quixote. Translated by J. M. Cohen. London: Penguin, 1950. Print.

  • Cixous, Hélene. Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing. Translated by Sarah Cornell and Susan Sellers. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993. Print.

  • Eggington, William. The Man Who Invented Fiction: How Cervantes Ushered in the Modern World. London: Bloomsbury, 2016. Print.

  • James, Henry. The Art of Fiction. [Published in Longman’s Magazine 4 (September 1884), and reprinted in Partial Portraits (Macmillan, 1888); paragraphing and capitalization follow the Library of America edition.] <https://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/artfiction.html> (20 Nov 2016) online.

  • Kristoff, Nicholas. Eric Metzgar. Dir. The Reporter. U.S.A: Stick Figure. 2009. Film.

  • O’Connor, Flannery. Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose. <http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/34004-anybody-who-hassurvived- his-childhood-has-enough-information-about >(20 Nov 2016) online.

  • Vogler, Christopher. The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. 3rd Edition. Studio City, CA: Michael Weise Productions, 1998. Print.


Journal + Issues

Open Cultural Studies is a peer-reviewed journal exploring the fields of Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts. It interprets culture in an inclusive sense and promotes new research perspectives in cultural studies. The journal aims to enhance international collaboration among scholars from the Global North and the Global South and help early-career researchers. It is also committed to increasing public access to scholarship on cultural studies.