• Morgan Fagg

World Book & Copyright Day 2020

Athlone Community Radio update 24/4/2020

Good afternoon Athlone. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope you are well.

Yesterday was El Dia de los Libros which translates as The Day of the Books and it is also known internationally as World Book and Copyright Day.

World Book Day is celebrated by Ireland and the United Kingdom in March because April 23rd is Saint George’s Day but I think it is worth celebrating El Dia de Los Libros as Ireland doesn’t have a Saint George’s Day celebration that I know of.

There is no significance attached to the date of World Book Day but there is a very good reason to remember April 23rd. Let me tell you about my neighbour Miguel de Cervantes.

Cervantes is famous for writing the world’s first modern novel which he called Don Quijote de La Mancha. He is the most famous hispanic writer and the tale of Don Quijote is so well known in English that I frequently hear it quoted in English too.

Miguel de Cervantes lived in Madrid towards the end of his life and his house is about 200 metres from my apartment and a large statue to the Spanish author stands outside the Spanish parliament which is about 500 metres from my apartment.

Along the street in the area that is known as El Barrio de las letras or the neighbourhood of writers, you will find the opening lines to Don Quijote written in gold writing.

Written in gold but not in stone, the cobblestones have the opening lines of Don Quijote written in brass letters.

A little further down the street and you will find the convent where Cervantes was buried.

I tried to take a picture of this golden introduction yesterday but was stopped by the police.

There is no 2km radius of exercise in Madrid. We have been locked in our apartments for 6 full weeks, only allowed out to go shopping, buy medicine or walk dogs.

It is a strange world we are living in and authors like Stephen King have even started to pick up some classic books such as James Joyce’s Ullysses.

Cervantes died on the 23rd of April 1616 and on that very day, it is believed that The Bard died too.

William Shakespeare died on the 23rd of April which is also believed to be his birthday.

I would encourage everyone, confined to their homes, to either pick up a book or at least document this strange and historic time we are living in.

We lost two of the world’s greatest writers on the exact same day and I think it is worth remembering the 23rd of April even if England is too busy with Saint George’s Day to remember the life and death of William Shakespeare.

Maybe it is time for Ireland to exit from World Book Day and change to the 23rd of April for World Book and Copyright Day. We could even call this Book Exit, BEXIT.

Feliz dia de los Libros, Happy World Book and Copyright Day everyone.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope you are well.

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