Don Quixote, fully titled The history of the valorous and wittie Knight-Errant Don-Quixote of the Mancha, is a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age, the story follows the adventures of an hidalgo named Mr. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, Don Quixote, in the first part of the book, does not see the world for what it is and prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story. Throughout the novel, Cervantes uses such techniques as realism, metatheatre. Arthur Schopenhauer cited Don Quixote as one of the four greatest novels written, along with Tristram Shandy, La Nouvelle Héloïse. Cervantes wrote that the first chapters were taken from The Archive of La Mancha, and this metafictional trick appears to give a greater credibility to the text, implying that Don Quixote is a real character and that the story truly occurred several decades back. However, it was common practice in that era for fictional works to make some pretense of being factual. As a result, he is given to anger and believes every word of these fictional books of chivalry to be true. Imitating the protagonists of these books, he decides to become a knight-errant in search of adventure. He spends the night holding vigil over his armor and becomes involved in a fight with muleteers who try to remove his armor from the horse trough so that they can water their mules. In a pretended ceremony, the innkeeper dubs him a knight to be rid of him, and sends him on his way. Don Quixote next frees a young boy tied to a tree and beaten by his master, and makes his master swear to treat the boy fairly, Don Quixote then encounters traders from Toledo, who insult the imaginary Dulcinea. He attacks them, only to be beaten and left on the side of the road. While Don Quixote is unconscious in his bed, his niece, the housekeeper, the parish curate, a large part of this section consists of the priest deciding which books deserve to be burned and which to be saved. This gives an occasion for many comments on books Cervantes liked and disliked, for example, Cervantes own pastoral novel La Galatea is saved, while the rather unbelievable romance Felixmarte de Hyrcania is burned. After the books are dealt with, they seal up the room contained the library. After a short period of feigning health, Don Quixote requests his neighbor, Sancho Panza, to be his squire, Sancho, who is both greedy and unintelligent, agrees to the offer and sneaks away with Don Quixote in the early dawn. It is here that their famous adventures begin, starting with Don Quixotes attack on windmills that he believes to be ferocious giants, the two next encounter a group of friars accompanying a lady in a carriage
Title page of first edition (1605)
Don Quijote (Don Quixote) Illustration by Gustave Doré, depicting the famous windmill scene.
First editions of the first and second part
Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863, by Gustave Doré.