Celebrating a Multicultural Quijote

Caxton College celebrated World Book Day with a continuous reading of “El Quijote” in which students and guests from various cultural spheres took part, and where Cervantes’ words were read in nine different languages.

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Listening to the words of our most illustrious wordsmith spoken in Chinese, Russian, English, Dutch, Persian, Swedish, Portuguese and, of course, Valencian, was an amazing experience for all who attended the closing ceremony of the II Literary Campaign at this British school in Puzol, which had been preparing for the event over the last two months, to mark World Book Day.

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The multilingual occasion, organised enthusiastically by the Secondary Spanish Department, emphasised the importance of encouraging the habit of reading and showed how different cultures can gather together through a love of classical literature.

Jaime Siles, Poet and Professor at the University of Valencia, was one of the first to read from “Don Quijote de la Mancha” before an audience who hung on every word of the unique language of Cervantes.  The renowned poet told the attendees that “this innovative occasion is important for several reasons.  Firstly, because Cervantes is a universal writer and with this event we are paying him the homage he deserves by listening to his words in so many languages.  And secondly, because, in this globalised world in which we live, it is necessary to teach children about linguistic diversity so that they can see literature as a place to meet and share a common dialogue.”

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Other guests who took part in the reading of this classic work included Mª Ángeles Fayos, Theatrical Director, Vicente Simón, Professor of Psychobiology, Alfredo Escardino, writer, Margarita Rohr, President of the Russian Casa Valencia, Bob Yareham, journalist and editor, Xavier Alcácer and Enric Esteve, Mayor and Cultural Counsellor of Puzol respectively, and Trevor Nicholas, founding member of the Board of Caxton College.  All of them read passages from Cervantes’ novel in their respective languages, in a ceremony which included a backdrop of baroque music, works of art by students on the theme of Cervantes and a brief exhibition of different editions of the book.

More than eighty people, including students, teachers and guests, made a human literary chain in which, to quote the British journalist Mr Yareham, “in a place like Puzol, the students of Caxton College have connected with their literary heritage, by enjoying the words of the great Quijote in different languages.”  It should be noted that many sections of the text were dramatised and read with real passion by the speakers, which the audience found fascinating.

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During the four hours that the event lasted, many students were surprised by the twists and turns, and picturesque expressions that Cervantes used in his novel about a very atypical knight.  Thanks to this experience, many students are now interested in doing further research and in finding out more about their own language.  In addition, the musical sound and strength of the name of our Knight of La Mancha and other characters in the novel, as well as the language in which they were read, were part of what made this multilingual gather so enjoyable.

To sum up, Caxton College hosted an intensive celebration centred around the most widely recognised Spanish literary figure, to encourage a love of reading from an early age because, as the nobleman from La Mancha says himself, “he who reads much and walks much, sees much and knows much”.

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