Don Quixote

by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Translator: John Ormsby

Don Quixote is a Spanish epic novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Originally published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615, its full title is The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. A founding work of Western literature, it is often labelled as the first modern noveland one of the greatest works ever written. Don Quixote is also one of the most-translated books in the world.
The plot revolves around the adventures of a member of the lowest nobility, an hidalgo from La Mancha named Alonso Quijano, who reads so many chivalric romances that he either loses or pretends to have lost his mind in order to become a knight-errant to revive chivalry and serve his nation, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthy wit in dealing with Don Quixote's rhetorical monologues on knighthood, already considered old-fashioned at the time, and representing the most droll realism in contrast to his master's idealism.
When first published, Don Quixote was usually interpreted as a comic novel. After the successful French Revolution, it was better known for its presumed central ethic that in some ways individuals can be intelligent while their society is quite fanciful and was seen as a fascinating, enchanting or disenchanting book in this dynamic. In the 19th century, it was seen as social commentary, but no one could easily tell "whose side Cervantes was on". Many critics came to view the work as a tragedy in which Don Quixote's idealism and nobility are viewed by the post-chivalric world as insane, and are defeated and rendered useless by common reality; by the 20th century, the novel had come to occupy a canonical space as one of the foundations of letters in literature.

Excerpted from Don Quixote on Wikipedia.

person AuthorMiguel de Cervantes
language CountryHabsburg Spain
api GenreAdventureKnightChivalric romanceRomances
copyright CopyrightPublic domain worldwide.
camera_alt Book cover"The famous windmill scene"
Image: Gustave Doré|wikipedia
book_online EbooksProject Gutenberg
description ScansGoogle-digitized
headphones AudioLibrivox | Internet Archive
auto_stories Read onlineDON QUIXOTE
--Read by Expatriate--

Part III
Alonso Quixano, the protagonist of the novel, is a hidalgo (member of the lesser Spanish nobility), nearing 50 years of age, living in an unnamed section of La Mancha with his niece and housekeeper, as well as a stable boy who is never heard of again after the first chapter. Although Quixano is usually a rational man, in keeping with the humoral physiology theory of the time, not sleeping adequately—because he was reading—has caused his brain to dry. Quixano's temperament is thus choleric, the hot and dry humor. As a result, he is easily given to anger and believes every word of some of these fictional books of chivalry to be true such were the "complicated conceits"; "what Aristotle himself could not have made out or extracted had he come to life again for that special purpose"...

Part III, IV
Volume Two was a sequel published ten years after the original novel. While Volume One was mostly farcical, the second half is more serious and philosophical about the theme of deception and "sophistry". Opening just prior to the third Sally, the first chapters of  VolumeTwo show Don Quixote found to be still some sort of a modern day "highly" literate know-it-all, knight errant that can recover quickly from injury - Sancho his squire, however.