Instituto Cervantes’ quixotic challenge on World Book Day 2
The onsite event will take place at the Instituto Cervantes in Intramuros, Manila. Photo from their Facebook page
Culture

Instituto Cervantes needs 100 literature fans to take part in hand-writing ‘Don Quixote’ in a special book

The World Book Day activity can easily be described as ‘quixotic.’
ANCX Staff | Apr 19 2022

World Book Day is an annual tradition that began in 1995, on the 23rd of April, during which men and women exchange roses and books. The celebration’s founder, Baroness Gail Rebuck, thought of it as a move “to reposition reading” as an activity that is “fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and has the power to transform lives.”

The date also honors the passing of two of history’s greatest writers – Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare – who coincidentally died on the very same day, April 23, 1616. Cervantes, of course, is the man behind the Spanish “Don Quixote,” considered the first modern novel and a GOAT in world literature. The story of a middle-aged, idealistic man lost in a world of his own making, it influenced other classic narratives: “The Three Musketeers,” “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, first edition)
Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, first edition). From Wikipedia

To celebrate World Book Day this April, or Dia Del Libro in Spanish, the Instituto Cervantes, the cultural arm in Manila of the Embassy of Spain (also named after the great novelist), is putting the spotlight on “Don Quixote” via an activity that can easily be considered “quixotic.” The onsite event, to take place this Saturday at the Instituto Cervantes in Intramuros, Manila, is the hand copying of “Don Quixote.” The Spanish cultural center is looking for 100 book-loving volunteers to take part in this endeavor of hand-writing Cervantes’ iconic novel into a book that will be deposited in the library of Instituto Cervantes. 

Portrait of Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra
Portrait of Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra. Image from Wikipedia

Since the Instituto’s Dia del Libro is a hybrid event, there will also be an online counterpart to the book-making: a recital of Filhispanic poetry which is also open to interested participants. Poetry fans are enjoined to recite a few verses written in Spanish by Filipino writers. All recorded recitations will be compiled in a video to be posted in Instituto Cervantes’ social media on April 23, 2022. [Register as a reader here] 

Instituto Cervantes de Manila
Instituto Cervantes is the cultural arm in Manila of the Embassy of Spain. Photo from their Facebook page

First introduced in Manila by Instituto Cervantes in 2006, the tradition of Día del Libro began in Barcelona, Spain. Meanwhile, April is also the birth month of Francisco Balagtas which prompted the National Center for Culture and the Arts to declare it Filipino Literature Month. 

[Those interested in taking part of the writing of Don Quijote can join on the same day with no prior registration. Participants in the handwriting chain will receive a rose. Día del Libro is organized by Instituto Cervantes de Manila in collaboration with Embassy of Spain in the Philippines and Intramuros Administration. Admission to all Día del libro activities is free and on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 5261482 or visit https://manila.cervantes.es/en/default.shtm or www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila.]