Don Quixote (/ˌdɒn kiːˈhoʊti, ˌdɒn ˈkwɪksoʊt/;
Spanish: [doŋ kiˈxote] ( listen)), fully titled The
Ingenious Nobleman Sir Quixote of
La Mancha (Early Modern Spanish: El
Don Quixote de la Mancha or EL INGENIOSO HIDALGO DON
QVIXOTE DE LA MANCHA; Modern Spanish: El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote
de la Mancha, pronounced [el iŋxeˈnjoso iˈðalɣo ðoŋ
kiˈxote ðe la ˈmantʃa]), 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 and the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work
of modern Western literature and one of the earliest canonical novels,
it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction
ever published, such as the
Bokklubben World Library collection that
Don Quixote as the authors' choice for the "best literary work
The story follows the adventures of a noble (hidalgo) named Alonso
Quixano who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his sanity
and decides to set out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, and bring
justice to the world, 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
orations on antiquated knighthood. 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 literary techniques as
realism, metatheatre, and intertextuality. The book had a major
influence on the literary community, as evidenced by direct references
in Alexandre Dumas'
The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers (1844), Mark Twain's
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), and Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de
Bergerac (1897), as well as the word "quixotic" and the epithet
"Lothario"; the latter refers to a character in "El curioso
impertinente" ("The Impertinently Curious Man"), an intercalated story
that appears in Part One, chapters 33–35.
Arthur Schopenhauer cited
Don Quixote as one of the four greatest novels ever written, along
with Tristram Shandy, La Nouvelle Héloïse, and Wilhelm Meisters
1.1 Part 1
1.1.1 The First Sally (Chapters 1–5)
1.1.2 Destruction of Don Quixote's library (Chapters 6 and 7)
1.1.3 The Second Sally
22.214.171.124 The Pastoral Peregrinations (Chapters 11-15)
126.96.36.199 The inn (Chapters 16-17)
188.8.131.52 The galley slaves and Cardenio (Chapters 19-24)
184.108.40.206 The priest, the barber, and Dorotea (Chapters 25-31)
220.127.116.11 Return to the inn (Chapters 32-42)
18.104.22.168 The ending (Chapters 45-52)
1.2 Part 2
1.2.1 The Third Sally
4.2 Spurious Second Part by Avellaneda
4.3 Other stories
5.1 Spelling and pronunciation
6.1 English editions in translation
7 List of English translations
8 Influence and adaptations
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Don Quijote (Don Quixote) Illustration by Gustave Doré, depicting the
famous windmill scene.
Cervantes wrote that the first chapters were taken from "The Archive
of La Mancha", and the rest were translated from Arabic by the Moorish
author Cide Hamete Benengeli. This metafictional trick appears to give
a greater credibility to the text, implying that
Don Quixote is a real
character and that the events related truly occurred several decades
prior to the recording of this account. However, it was also common
practice in that era for fictional works to make some pretense of
being factual, such as the common opening line of fairy tales "Once
upon a time in a land far away..."
In the course of their travels, the protagonists meet innkeepers,
prostitutes, goatherders, soldiers, priests, escaped convicts and
scorned lovers. The aforementioned characters sometimes tell tales
that incorporate events from the real world, like the conquest of the
Kingdom of Maynila or battles in the Eighty Years'
War. Their encounters are magnified by Don Quixote's
imagination into chivalrous quests. Don Quixote's tendency to
intervene violently in matters irrelevant to himself, and his habit of
not paying debts, result in privations, injuries, and humiliations
(with Sancho often the victim). Finally,
Don Quixote is persuaded to
return to his home village. The narrator hints that there was a third
quest, but says that records of it have been lost.
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The First Sally (Chapters 1–5)
Alonso Quixano, the protagonist of the novel (though he is not given
this name until much later in the book), 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 boy who is never heard of again after the first chapter. Although
Quixano is usually a rational man, in keeping with the humoral 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 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. To these ends, he dons an old
suit of armour, renames himself "Don Quixote", names his exhausted
horse "Rocinante", and designates Aldonza Lorenzo, a neighboring farm
girl, as his lady love, renaming her
Dulcinea del Toboso, while she
knows nothing of this. Expecting to become famous quickly, he arrives
at an inn, which he believes to be a castle; calls the prostitutes he
meets "ladies" (doncellas); and asks the innkeeper, whom he takes as
the lord of the castle, to dub him a knight. 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 named Andres who is tied to a
tree and beaten by his master, and makes his master swear to treat the
boy fairly; but the boy's beating is continued as soon as Quixote
Don Quixote then encounters traders from Toledo, who "insult"
the imaginary Dulcinea. He attacks them, only to be severely beaten
and left on the side of the road, and is returned to his home by a
Destruction of Don Quixote's library (Chapters 6 and 7)
Don Quixote is unconscious in his bed, his niece, the
housekeeper, the parish curate and the local barber burn most of his
chivalric and other books. A large part of this section consists of
the priest deciding which books deserve to be burned and which to be
saved. It is a scene of high comedy: If the books are so bad for
morality, how does the priest know them well enough to describe every
naughty scene? Even so, this gives an occasion for many comments on
books Cervantes himself 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 which contained the library, later telling
Don Quixote that it was the action of a wizard (encantador).
The Second Sally
After a short period of feigning health,
Don Quixote requests his
neighbour, Sancho Panza, to be his squire, promising him a petty
governorship (ínsula). Sancho is a poor and simple farmer but more
practical than the head-in-the-clouds
Don Quixote and agrees to the
offer, sneaking away with
Don Quixote in the early dawn. It is here
that their famous adventures begin, starting with Don Quixote's attack
on windmills that he believes to be ferocious giants.
The two next encounter a group of friars accompanying a lady in a
Don Quixote takes the friars to be enchanters who hold the
lady captive, knocks a friar from his horse, and is immediately
challenged by an armed Basque traveling with the company. As he has no
shield, the Basque uses a pillow to protect himself, which saves him
Don Quixote strikes him. Cervantes chooses this point, in the
middle of the battle, to say that his source ends here. Soon, however,
he resumes Don Quixote's adventures after a story about finding Arabic
notebooks containing the rest of the story by Cid Hamet Ben Engeli.
The combat ends with the lady leaving her carriage and commanding
those traveling with her to "surrender" to Don Quixote.
First editions of the first and second part
The Pastoral Peregrinations (Chapters 11-15)
Don Quixote fall in with a group of goat herders. Don
Quixote tells Sancho and the goat herders about the "Golden Age" of
man, in which property does not exist and men live in peace. The
goatherders invite the Knight and Sancho to the funeral of
Grisóstomo, a former student who left his studies to become a
shepherd after reading pastoral novels (paralleling Don Quixote's
decision to become a knight), seeking the shepherdess Marcela. At the
funeral Marcela appears, vindicating herself from the bitter verses
written about her by Grisóstomo, and claiming her own autonomy and
freedom from expectations put on her by pastoral clichés. She
disappears into the woods, and
Don Quixote and Sancho follow.
Ultimately giving up, the two dismount by a pond to rest. Some
Galicians arrive to water their ponies, and
Rocinante (Don Quixote's
horse) attempts to mate with the ponies. The Galicians hit Rocinante
with clubs to dissuade him, whereupon
Don Quixote tries to defend
Rocinante. The Galicians beat
Don Quixote and Sancho, leaving them in
The inn (Chapters 16-17)
After escaping the musketeers,
Don Quixote and Sancho ride to a nearby
inn. Once again,
Don Quixote imagines the inn is a castle, although
Sancho is not quite convinced.
Don Quixote is given a bed in a former
hayloft, and Sancho sleeps on the rug next to the bed; they share the
loft with a muleteer. When night comes,
Don Quixote imagines the
servant girl at the inn, Helen, to be a beautiful princess, and makes
her sit on his bed with him, scaring her. Seeing what is happening,
the muleteer attacks Don Quixote, breaking the fragile bed and leading
to a large and chaotic fight in which
Don Quixote and Sancho are once
again badly hurt. Don Quixote's explanation for everything is that
they fought with an enchanted Moor. He also believes that he can cure
their wounds with a mixture he calls "the balm of Firearbras", which
only makes them sick.
Don Quixote and Sancho decide to leave the inn,
but Quixote, following the example of the fictional knights, leaves
without paying. Sancho, however, remains and ends up wrapped in a
blanket and tossed up in the air (blanketed) by several mischievous
guests at the inn, something that is often mentioned over the rest of
the novel. After his release, he and
Don Quixote continue their
The galley slaves and Cardenio (Chapters 19-24)
Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863, by Gustave Doré.
Don Quixote has adventures involving a dead body, a helmet, and
freeing a group of galley slaves, he and Sancho wander into the Sierra
Morena and there encounter the dejected Cardenio. Cardenio relates the
first part of his story, in which he falls deeply in love with his
childhood friend Luscinda, and is hired as the companion to the Duke's
son, leading to his friendship with the Duke's younger son, Don
Fernando. Cardenio confides in Don Fernando his love for Luscinda and
the delays in their engagement, caused by Cardenio's desire to keep
with tradition. After reading Cardenio's poems praising Luscinda, Don
Fernando falls in love with her.
Don Quixote interrupts when Cardenio
suggests that his beloved may have become unfaithful after the
formulaic stories of spurned lovers in chivalric novels. They get into
a fight, ending with Cardenio beating all of them and walking away to
The priest, the barber, and Dorotea (Chapters 25-31)
Quixote pines for Dulcinea, imitating Cardenio. Quixote sends Sancho
to deliver a letter to Dulcinea, but instead Sancho finds the barber
and priest and brings them to Quixote. The priest and barber make
plans to trick
Don Quixote to come home. They get the help of Dorotea,
a woman who has been deceived by Don Fernando. She pretends that she
is the Princess Micomicona and desperate to get Quixote's help.
Quixote runs into Andres, who insults his incompetence.
Return to the inn (Chapters 32-42)
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June
The group returns to the previous inn where the priest tells the story
of Anselmo while Quixote battles with wineskins. Dorotea is reunited
with Don Fernando and Cardenio with Lucinda. A captive from Moorish
lands arrives and is asked to tell the story of his life. A judge
arrives, and it is found that the captive is his long-lost brother,
and the two are reunited.
The ending (Chapters 45-52)
An officer of the
Santa Hermandad has a warrant for Quixote's arrest
for freeing the galley-slaves. The priest begs for the officer to have
mercy on account of Quixote’s insanity. The officer agrees, and
Quixote is locked in a cage and made to think that it is an
enchantment and that there is a prophecy of his heroic return home.
While traveling, the group stops to eat and lets Quixote out of the
cage, and he gets into a fight with a goatherd and with a group of
pilgrims, who beat him into submission, and he is finally brought
home. The narrator ends the story by saying that he has found
manuscripts of Quixote's further adventures.
Illustration to The Ingenious Gentleman
Don Quixote of La Mancha.
Volume II. Ilustración para el ingenioso caballero Don Quijote de La
Mancha. Volumen dos.
Although the two parts are now published as a single work, Don
Quixote, Part Two was a sequel published ten years after the original
novel. While Part One was mostly farcical, the second half is more
serious and philosophical about the theme of deception.
Part Two of
Don Quixote explores the concept of a character
understanding that he is written about, an idea much explored in the
The Third Sally
As Part Two begins, it is assumed that the literate classes of Spain
have all read the first part of the story. Cervantes's meta-fictional
device was to make even the characters in the story familiar with the
publication of Part One, as well as with an actually published,
fraudulent Part Two. When strangers encounter the duo in person, they
already know their famous history. A Duke and Duchess, and others,
Don Quixote for entertainment, setting forth a string of
imagined adventures resulting in a series of practical jokes. Some of
them put Don Quixote's sense of chivalry and his devotion to Dulcinea
through many tests. Pressed into finding Dulcinea, Sancho brings back
three ragged peasant girls and tells
Don Quixote that they are
Dulcinea and her ladies-in-waiting. When
Don Quixote only sees the
peasant girls, Sancho pretends (reversing some incidents of Part One)
that their derelict appearance results from an enchantment.
Sancho later gets his comeuppance for this when, as part of one of the
Duke and Duchess's pranks, the two are led to believe that the only
method to release
Dulcinea from her spell is for Sancho to give
himself three thousand three hundred lashes. Sancho naturally resists
this course of action, leading to friction with his master. Under the
Duke's patronage, Sancho eventually gets a governorship, though it is
false; and he proves to be a wise and practical ruler; though this
ends in humiliation as well. Near the end,
Don Quixote reluctantly
sways towards sanity.
The lengthy untold "history" of Don Quixote's adventures in
knight-errantry comes to a close after his battle with the Knight of
the White Moon (a young man from Don Quixote's hometown who had
previously posed as the Knight of Mirrors) on the beach in Barcelona,
in which the reader finds him conquered. Bound by the rules of
Don Quixote submits to prearranged terms that the vanquished
is to obey the will of the conqueror: here, it is that
Don Quixote is
to lay down his arms and cease his acts of chivalry for the period of
one year (in which he may be cured of his madness). He and Sancho
undergo one more prank by the Duke and Duchess before setting off.
Upon returning to his village,
Don Quixote announces his plan to
retire to the countryside as a shepherd, but his housekeeper urges him
to stay at home. Soon after, he retires to his bed with a deathly
illness, and later awakes from a dream, having fully recovered his
sanity. Sancho tries to restore his faith, but Quixano (his proper
name) only renounces his previous ambition and apologizes for the harm
he has caused. He dictates his will, which includes a provision that
his niece will be disinherited if she marries a man who reads books of
chivalry. After Alonso Quixano dies, the author emphasizes that there
are no more adventures to relate and that any further books about Don
Quixote would be spurious.
Harold Bloom says that
Don Quixote is a work of radical nihilism and
anarchism,[not in citation given] which prefers the glory of fantasy
over a real world, which includes imminent death, and is "the first
Edith Grossman, who wrote and published a highly acclaimed English
translation of the novel in 2003, says that the book is mostly meant
to move people into emotion using a systematic change of course, on
the verge of both tragedy and comedy at the same time. Grossman has
The question is that Quixote has multiple interpretations [...] and
how do I deal with that in my translation. I'm going to answer your
question by avoiding it [...] so when I first started reading the
Quixote I thought it was the most tragic book in the world, and I
would read it and weep [...] As I grew older [...] my skin grew
thicker [...] and so when I was working on the translation I was
actually sitting at my computer and laughing out loud. This is done
[...] as Cervantes did it [...] by never letting the reader rest. You
are never certain that you truly got it. Because as soon as you think
you understand something, Cervantes introduces something that
contradicts your premise.
See also: List of works influenced by Don Quixote
Don Quixote by
Honoré Daumier (1868)
The novel's structure is episodic in form. It is written in the
picaresco style of the late 16th century and features references to
other picaresque novels including
Lazarillo de Tormes
Lazarillo de Tormes and The Golden
Ass. The full title is indicative of the tale's object, as ingenioso
(Spanish) means "quick with inventiveness", marking the transition
of modern literature from dramatic to thematic unity. The novel takes
place over a long period of time, including many adventures united by
common themes of the nature of reality, reading, and dialogue in
Although burlesque on the surface, the novel, especially in its second
half, has served as an important thematic source not only in
literature but also in much of art and music, inspiring works by Pablo
Picasso and Richard Strauss. The contrasts between the tall, thin,
fancy-struck and idealistic Quixote and the fat, squat, world-weary
Panza is a motif echoed ever since the book's publication, and Don
Quixote's imaginings are the butt of outrageous and cruel practical
jokes in the novel.
Even faithful and simple Sancho is forced to deceive him at certain
points. The novel is considered a satire of orthodoxy, veracity and
even nationalism. In exploring the individualism of his characters,
Cervantes helped move beyond the narrow literary conventions of the
chivalric romance literature that he spoofed, which consists of
straightforward retelling of a series of acts that redound to the
knightly virtues of the hero. The character of
Don Quixote became so
well known in its time that the word quixotic was quickly adopted by
many languages. Characters such as
Sancho Panza and Don Quixote's
steed, Rocinante, are emblems of Western literary culture. The phrase
"tilting at windmills" to describe an act of attacking imaginary
enemies, derives from an iconic scene in the book.
It stands in a unique position between medieval chivalric romance and
the modern novel. The former consist of disconnected stories featuring
the same characters and settings with little exploration of the inner
life of even the main character. The latter are usually focused on the
psychological evolution of their characters. In Part I, Quixote
imposes himself on his environment. By Part II, people know about him
through "having read his adventures", and so, he needs to do less to
maintain his image. By his deathbed, he has regained his sanity, and
is once more "Alonso Quixano the Good".
When first published,
Don Quixote was usually interpreted as a comic
novel. After the French Revolution, it was popular for its central
ethic that individuals can be right while society is quite wrong and
seen as disenchanting. In the 19th century, it was seen as a 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 modern literature.
Don Quixote include the Castilian novel Amadis de Gaula,
which had enjoyed great popularity throughout the 16th century.
Another prominent source, which Cervantes evidently admires more, is
Tirant lo Blanch, which the priest describes in Chapter VI of Quixote
as "the best book in the world." (However, the sense in which it was
"best" is much debated among scholars. The passage is called since the
19th century "the most difficult passage of Don Quixote".) The scene
of the book burning gives us an excellent list of Cervantes's likes
and dislikes about literature.
Cervantes makes a number of references to the Italian poem Orlando
furioso. In chapter 10 of the first part of the novel, Don Quixote
says he must take the magical helmet of Mambrino, an episode from
Canto I of Orlando, and itself a reference to Matteo Maria Boiardo's
Orlando innamorato. The interpolated story in chapter 33 of Part
four of the First Part is a retelling of a tale from Canto 43 of
Orlando, regarding a man who tests the fidelity of his wife.
Another important source appears to have been Apuleius's The Golden
Ass, one of the earliest known novels, a picaresque from late
classical antiquity. The wineskins episode near the end of the
interpolated tale "The Curious Impertinent" in chapter 35 of the first
Don Quixote is a clear reference to Apuleius, and recent
scholarship suggests that the moral philosophy and the basic
trajectory of Apuleius's novel are fundamental to Cervantes's
program. Similarly, many of both Sancho's adventures in Part II
and proverbs throughout are taken from popular Spanish and Italian
Cervantes's experiences as a galley slave in Algiers also influenced
Spurious Second Part by Avellaneda
It is not certain when Cervantes began writing Part Two of Don
Quixote, but he had probably not proceeded much further than Chapter
LIX by late July 1614. About September, however, a spurious Part Two,
entitled Second Volume of the Ingenious Gentleman
Don Quixote of La
Mancha: by the Licenciado (doctorate) Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda,
of Tordesillas, was published in
Tarragona by an unidentified
Aragonese who was an admirer of Lope de Vega, rival of Cervantes.
Some modern scholars suggest that Don Quixote's fictional encounter
with Avellaneda in Chapter 59 of Part II should not be taken as the
date that Cervantes encountered it, which may have been much earlier.
Avellaneda's identity has been the subject of many theories, but there
is no consensus as to who he was. In its prologue, the author
gratuitously insulted Cervantes, who not surprisingly took offense and
responded; the last half of Chapter LIX and most of the following
chapters of Cervantes' Segunda Parte lend some insight into the
effects upon him; Cervantes manages to work in some subtle digs at
Avellaneda's own work, and in his preface to Part II, comes very near
to criticizing Avellaneda directly.
In his introduction to The Portable Cervantes, Samuel Putnam, a noted
translator of Cervantes' novel, calls Avellaneda's version "one of the
most disgraceful performances in history".
The second part of Cervantes' Don Quixote, finished as a direct result
of the Avellaneda book, has come to be regarded by some literary
critics as superior to the first part, because of its greater
depth of characterization, its discussions, mostly between Quixote and
Sancho, on diverse subjects, and its philosophical insights.
Don Quixote, his horse
Rocinante and his squire
Sancho Panza after an
unsuccessful attack on a windmill. By Gustave Doré.
Don Quixote, Part One contains a number of stories which do not
directly involve the two main characters, but which are narrated by
some of the picaresque figures encountered by the Don and Sancho
during their travels. The longest and best known of these is "El
Curioso Impertinente" (the impertinently curious man), found in Part
One, Book Four. This story, read to a group of travelers at an inn,
tells of a Florentine nobleman, Anselmo, who becomes obsessed with
testing his wife's fidelity, and talks his close friend
attempting to seduce her, with disastrous results for all.
In Part Two, the author acknowledges the criticism of his digressions
in Part One and promises to concentrate the narrative on the central
characters (although at one point he laments that his narrative muse
has been constrained in this manner). Nevertheless, "Part Two"
contains several back narratives related by peripheral characters.
Several abridged editions have been published which delete some or all
of the extra tales in order to concentrate on the central
Spelling and pronunciation
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Cervantes wrote his work in an early modern form of Spanish, heavily
borrowing from Old Castilian, the medieval form of the language. The
language of Don Quixote, although still containing archaisms, is far
more understandable to modern Spanish readers than is, for instance,
the completely medieval Spanish of the Poema de mio Cid, a kind of
Spanish that is as different from Cervantes's language as Middle
English is from Modern English. The Old Castilian language was also
used to show the higher class that came with being a knight errant.
In Don Quixote, there are basically two different types of Castilian:
Old Castilian is spoken only by Don Quixote, while the rest of the
roles speak a contemporary version of Spanish. The Old Castilian of
Don Quixote is a humoristic resource – he copies the language spoken
in the chivalric books that made him mad; and many times, when he
talks nobody is able to understand him because his language is too
old. This humorous effect is more difficult to see nowadays because
the reader must be able to distinguish the two old versions of the
language, but when the book was published it was much celebrated.
(English translations can get some sense of the effect by having Don
Quixote use King James Bible or Shakespearian English, or even Middle
In Old Castilian, the letter x represented the sound written sh in
modern English, so the name was originally pronounced [kiˈʃote].
However, as Old Castilian evolved towards modern Spanish, a sound
change caused it to be pronounced with a voiceless velar fricative
sound (like the Scottish or German ch), and today the Spanish
pronunciation of "Quixote" is [kiˈxote]. The original pronunciation
is reflected in languages such as Asturian, Leonese, Galician,
Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, and French, where it is pronounced with
a "sh" or "ch" sound; the French opera
Don Quichotte is one of the
best-known modern examples of this pronunciation.
Today, English speakers generally attempt something close to the
modern Spanish pronunciation of Quixote (Quijote), as
/kiːˈhoʊti/, although the traditional English spelling-based
pronunciation with the value of the letter x in modern English is
still sometimes used, resulting in /ˈkwɪksət/ or /ˈkwɪksoʊt/. In
Australian English, the preferred pronunciation amongst members of the
educated classes was /ˈkwɪksət/ until well into the 1970s, as part
of a tendency for the upper class to "anglicise its borrowing
ruthlessly". The traditional English rendering is preserved in the
pronunciation of the adjectival form quixotic, i.e.,
/kwɪkˈsɒtɪk/, defined by
Merriam-Webster as the foolishly
impractical pursuit of ideals, typically marked by rash and lofty
Cervantes' story takes place on the plains of La Mancha, specifically
the comarca of Campo de Montiel.
En un lugar de La Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha
mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero,
adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.
(Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to
remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance
and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound
— Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Volume I, Chapter I
(translated by Edith Grossman)
The story also takes place in
El Toboso where
Don Quixote goes to seek
Dulcinea's blessings. The location of the village to which Cervantes
alludes in the opening sentence of
Don Quixote has been the subject of
debate since its publication over four centuries ago. Indeed,
Cervantes deliberately omits the name of the village, giving an
explanation in the final chapter:
Such was the end of the Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha, whose
village Cide Hamete would not indicate precisely, in order to leave
all the towns and villages of
La Mancha to contend among themselves
for the right to adopt him and claim him as a son, as the seven cities
of Greece contended for Homer.
— Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Volume II, Chapter 74
In 2004, a multidisciplinary team of academics from Complutense
University, led by Francisco Parra Luna, Manuel Fernández Nieto, and
Santiago Petschen Verdaguer, deduced that the village was that of
Villanueva de los Infantes. Their findings were published in a
paper titled "'El Quijote' como un sistema de distancias/tiempos:
hacia la localización del lugar de la Mancha", which was later
published as a book: El enigma resuelto del Quijote. The result was
replicated in two subsequent investigations: "La determinación del
lugar de la Mancha como problema estadístico" and "The Kinematics of
the Quixote and the Identity of the 'Place in La Mancha'".
Researchers Isabel Sanchez Duque and Francisco Javier Escudero have
found relevant information regarding the possible sources of
inspiration of Cervantes for writing Don Quixote. Cervantes was friend
of the family Villaseñor, which was involved in a combat with
Francisco de Acuña. Both sides combated disguised as medieval knights
in the road from
El Toboso to
Miguel Esteban in 1581. They also found
a person called Rodrigo Quijada, who bought the title of nobility of
"hidalgo", and created diverse conflicts with the help of a
Because of its widespread influence,
Don Quixote also helped cement
the modern Spanish language. The opening sentence of the book created
a classic Spanish cliché with the phrase "de cuyo nombre no quiero
acordarme" ("whose name I do not wish to recall"): "En un lugar de la
Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no hace mucho tiempo que
vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín
flaco y galgo corredor." ("In a village of La Mancha, whose name I do
not wish to recall, there lived, not very long ago, one of those
gentlemen with a lance in the lance-rack, an ancient shield, a skinny
old horse, and a fast greyhound.")
The novel's farcical elements make use of punning and similar verbal
playfulness. Character-naming in
Don Quixote makes ample figural use
of contradiction, inversion, and irony, such as the names
Rocinante (a reversal) and
Dulcinea (an allusion to illusion), and
the word quixote itself, possibly a pun on quijada (jaw) but certainly
cuixot (Catalan: thighs), a reference to a horse's rump.
As a military term, the word quijote refers to cuisses, part of a full
suit of plate armour protecting the thighs. The Spanish suffix -ote
denotes the augmentative—for example, grande means large, but
grandote means extra large. Following this example, Quixote would
suggest 'The Great Quijano', a play on words that makes much sense in
light of the character's delusions of grandeur.
La Mancha is a region of Spain, but mancha (Spanish word) means spot,
mark, stain. Translators such as John Ormsby have declared La Mancha
to be one of the most desertlike, unremarkable regions of Spain, the
least romantic and fanciful place that one would imagine as the home
of a courageous knight.
Don Quixote de la Mancha by
Miguel de Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes (the
edition translated by Charles Jarvis)
Don Quixote. Close up of Illustration. Don Quijote. Cerca de la
Bronze statues of
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, at the Plaza de
España in Madrid.
Collage of the engravings of The Adventures of
Don Quixote by Gustave
In July 1604, Cervantes sold the rights of El ingenioso hidalgo don
Quixote de la Mancha (known as Don Quixote, Part I) to the
Francisco de Robles for an unknown sum[citation
needed]. License to publish was granted in September, the printing was
finished in December, and the book came out on 16 January
The novel was an immediate success. The majority of the 400 copies of
the first edition were sent to the New World, with the publisher
hoping to get a better price in the Americas. Although most of
them disappeared in a shipwreck near La Havana, approximately 70
copies reached Lima, from where they were sent to
Cuzco in the heart
of the defunct Inca Empire.
No sooner was it in the hands of the public than preparations were
made to issue derivative (pirated) editions.
Don Quixote had been
growing in favour, and its author's name was now known beyond the
Pyrenees. By August 1605, there were two Madrid editions, two
published in Lisbon, and one in Valencia. Publisher Francisco de
Robles secured additional copyrights for
Aragon and Portugal for a
Sale of these publishing rights deprived Cervantes of further
financial profit on Part One. In 1607, an edition was printed in
Brussels. Robles, the Madrid publisher, found it necessary to meet
demand with a third edition, a seventh publication in all, in 1608.
Popularity of the book in Italy was such that a Milan bookseller
issued an Italian edition in 1610. Yet another
Brussels edition was
called for in 1611. Since then, numerous editions have been
released and in total, the novel is believed to have sold more than 10
million copies worldwide. The work has been produced in numerous
editions and languages, the Cervantes Collection, at the State Library
of New South Wales includes over 1,100 editions. These were collected,
by Dr Ben Haneman, over a period of thirty years.
In 1613, Cervantes published the Novelas Ejemplares, dedicated to the
Maecenas of the day, the Conde de Lemos. Eight and a half years after
Part One had appeared came the first hint of a forthcoming Segunda
Parte (Part Two). "You shall see shortly," Cervantes says, "the
further exploits of
Don Quixote and humours of Sancho Panza." Don
Quixote, Part Two, published by the same press as its predecessor,
appeared late in 1615, and quickly reprinted in
Brussels and Valencia
(1616) and Lisbon (1617). Part two capitalizes on the potential of the
first while developing and diversifying the material without
sacrificing familiarity. Many people agree that it is richer and more
profound.[who?] Parts One and Two were published as one edition in
Barcelona in 1617. Historically, Cervantes's work has been said to
have "smiled Spain's chivalry away", suggesting that
Don Quixote as a
chivalric satire contributed to the demise of Spanish Chivalry.
English editions in translation
Don Quixote goes mad from his reading of books of chivalry. Engraving
by Gustave Doré.
There are many translations of the book, and it has been adapted many
times in shortened versions. Many derivative editions were also
written at the time, as was the custom of envious or unscrupulous
writers. Seven years after the Parte Primera appeared,
Don Quixote had
been translated into French, German, Italian, and English, with the
first French translation of 'Part II' appearing in 1618, and the first
English translation in 1620. One abridged adaptation, authored by
Agustín Sánchez, runs slightly over 150 pages, cutting away about
Thomas Shelton's English translation of the First Part appeared in
1612 while Cervantes was still alive, although there is no evidence
that Shelton had met the author. Although Shelton's version is
cherished by some, according to John Ormsby and Samuel Putnam, it was
far from satisfactory as a carrying over of Cervantes's text.
Shelton's translation of the novel's Second Part appeared in 1620.
Near the end of the 17th century, John Phillips, a nephew of poet John
Milton, published what Putnam considered the worst English
translation. The translation, as literary critics claim, was not based
on Cervantes' text but mostly upon a French work by Filleau de
Saint-Martin and upon notes which Thomas Shelton had written.
Around 1700, a version by
Pierre Antoine Motteux appeared. Motteux's
translation enjoyed lasting popularity; it was reprinted as the Modern
Library Series edition of the novel until recent times.
Nonetheless, future translators would find much to fault in Motteux's
Samuel Putnam criticized "the prevailing slapstick quality of
this work, especially where
Sancho Panza is involved, the obtrusion of
the obscene where it is found in the original, and the slurring of
difficulties through omissions or expanding upon the text". John
Ormsby considered Motteux's version "worse than worthless", and
denounced its "infusion of Cockney flippancy and facetiousness" into
The proverb 'The proof of the pudding is in the eating' is widely
attributed to Cervantes. The Spanish word for pudding, 'budín',
however, doesn't appear in the original text but premieres in the
Motteux translation. In Smolletts translation of 1755, he notes
that the original text reads literally "you will see when the eggs are
fried" meaning 'time will tell'.
A translation by
Captain John Stevens, which revised Thomas Shelton's
version, also appeared in 1700, but its publication was overshadowed
by the simultaneous release of Motteux's translation.
In 1742, the
Charles Jervas translation appeared, posthumously.
Through a printer's error, it came to be known, and is still known, as
"the Jarvis translation". It was the most scholarly and accurate
English translation of the novel up to that time, but future
translator John Ormsby points out in his own introduction to the novel
that the Jarvis translation has been criticized as being too stiff.
Nevertheless, it became the most frequently reprinted translation of
the novel until about 1885. Another 18th-century translation into
English was that of Tobias Smollett, himself a novelist, first
published in 1755. Like the Jarvis translation, it continues to be
A translation by
Alexander James Duffield appeared in 1881 and another
Henry Edward Watts in 1888. Most modern translators take as their
model the 1885 translation by John Ormsby. It is said[by whom?] that
his translation was the most honest of all translations, without
expansions upon the text or changing of the proverbs.
An expurgated children's version, under the title The Story of Don
Quixote, was published in 1922 (available on Project Gutenberg). It
leaves out the risqué sections as well as chapters that young readers
might consider dull, and embellishes a great deal on Cervantes's
original text. The title page actually gives credit to the two editors
as if they were the authors, and omits any mention of Cervantes.
The most widely read English-language translations of the mid-20th
century are by
Samuel Putnam (1949),
J. M. Cohen
J. M. Cohen (1950; Penguin
Walter Starkie (1957). The last English translation of
the novel in the 20th century was by Burton Raffel, published in 1996.
The 21st century has already seen four new translations of the novel
into English. The first is by
John D. Rutherford and the second by
Edith Grossman. Reviewing the novel in the New York Times, Carlos
Fuentes called Grossman's translation a "major literary
achievement" and another called it the "most transparent and least
impeded among more than a dozen English translations going back to the
In 2005, the year of the novel's 400th anniversary, Tom Lathrop
published a new English translation of the novel, based on a lifetime
of specialized study of the novel and its history. The fourth
translation of the 21st century was released in 2006 by former
university librarian James H Montgomery, 26 years after he had begun
it, in an attempt to "recreate the sense of the original as closely as
possible, though not at the expense of Cervantes' literary style."
In 2011, another translation by Gerald J Davis appeared. It is the
latest and the fifth translation of the 21st century.
List of English translations
Thomas Shelton (1612 & 1620)
John Phillips (1687) - the nephew of
John Milton - the worst
translation according to John Ormsby and Samuel Putnam
Captain John Stevens (1700) (revision of Thomas Shelton)
Pierre Antoine Motteux (1700)
John Ozell (1719) (revision of Pierre Antoine Motteux)
Charles Jervas (1742)
Tobias Smollett (1755) (revision of Charles Jervas)
Charles Henry Wilmot (1774)
Alexander James Duffield (1881)
John Ormsby (1885) - the most accurate
Henry Edward Watts (1888)
Robinson Smith (1910)
Samuel Putnam (1949)
J. M. Cohen
J. M. Cohen (1950)
Walter Starkie (1957)
Kenneth Douglas and Joseph Jones (1981) (revision of John Ormsby)
Burton Raffel (1996)
John Rutherford (2000)
Edith Grossman (2003) - the most popular
Tom Lathrop (2005)
James H. Montgomery (2006)
Gerald J. Davis (2011)
Influence and adaptations
See list of works influenced by Don Quixote.
In October 2016, it was announced Disney is developing an adaptation
of the classic Spanish novel about a man who believes he is a knight,
with Gordon Gray and Billy Ray producing. Billy Ray is also writing
the script. Some sources that the plan is to adapt the work in a tone
that recalls the madcap and fantastical nature of the Pirates of the
Caribbean film series. 
Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda – author of a spurious sequel
to Don Quixote, which in turn is referenced in the actual sequel
Don Quixote characters
List of works influenced by Don Quixote – including a gallery
of paintings and illustrations
Tirant lo Blanc – one of the chivalric novels frequently
referenced by Don Quixote
Amadis de Gaula – one of the chivalric novels found in the
library of Don Quixote
António José da Silva – writer of Vida do Grande Dom Quixote
de la Mancha e do Gordo Sancho Pança (1733)
Belianis – one of the chivalric novels found in the library of
coco – In the last chapter, the epitaph of Don Quijote
identifies him as "el coco"
Man of la Mancha, a musical play based on the life of Cervantes,
author of Don Quixote.
Monsignor Quixote, a novel by the English author Graham Greene
Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote, a short story by Argentine
writer Jorge Luis Borges
List of best-selling books
Lists of 100 best books
^ a b Oxford English Dictionary, "Don Quixote"
^ Angelique, Chrisafis (21 July 2003). "
Don Quixote is the world's
best book say the world's top authors". The Guardian. London.
Retrieved 13 October 2012.
^ Schopenhauer, Arthur. "The Art of Literature". The Essays of Arthur
Schopenahuer. Archived from the original on 4 May 2015. Retrieved 22
^ Otis H. Green. "El Ingenioso Hidalgo",
Hispanic Review 25 (1957),
^ The Knight in the Mirror a 2003 book report in
The Guardian about
Harold Bloom's book.
Edith Grossman about
Don Quixote as tragedy and comedy a discussion
held in New York City on 5 February 2009 by Words Without Borders
^ ingenio 1, Real Academia Española
^ Don Quijote de la Mancha, Miguel de Cervantes, Edición de Florencio
Sevilla Arroyo, Área 2002 p.161
^ "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes, translated and annotated by
Edith Grossman, p.272
^ See chapter 2 of E. C. Graf's Cervantes and Modernity.
^ Eisenberg, D. Cervantes, Lope and Avellaneda. Estudios cervantinos
(Barcelona: Sirmio, 1991), pp. 119–41.
^ Cervantes, Miguel, The Portable Cervantes, ed.
Samuel Putnam (New
York: Penguin,  1978), p. viii
^ Putnam, Samuel (1976). Introduction to The Portable Cervantes.
Harmondsworth: Penguin. p. 14. ISBN 0-14-015057-9.
^ An example is The Portable Cervantes (New York: Viking Penguin,
1949), which contains an abridged version of the Samuel Putnam
^ Peters, P. H., ed. (1986). Style in Australia: current practices in
spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, capitalisation, etc. Macquarie
Park, New South Wales: Dictionary Research Centre, Macquarie
University. pp. 48–49. ISBN 0858375885.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 17 May
^ "To Quixote's village at the speed of a nag". London: Times
^ "La determinación del lugar de la Mancha como problema
estadístico" (PDF) (in Spanish). Valencia: Department of Statistics,
University of Malaga. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July
^ "The Kinematics of the Quixote and the Identity of the "Place in La
Mancha"" (PDF). Valencia: Department of Applied Mathematics,
University of Valencia: 7.
^ "Don Quijote era Acuña el Procurador". Madrid: El Mundo.
^ "Don Quijote de La Mancha: ¿realidad o ficción?". Madrid: El
^ rocinante: deriv. of rocín, work horse; colloq., brusque labourer;
rough, unkempt man. Real Academia Española.
^ quijote1.2: rump or haunch. Real Academia Española.
^ Cahill, Hugh. "Don Quixote". King's College London. Archived from
the original on 25 May 2007. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
^ a b "Cervantes, Miguel de". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2002.
J. Ormsby, "About Cervantes and Don Quixote" Archived 3 September 2006
at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b Serge Gruzinski, teacher at the
EHESS (July–August 2007). "Don
Quichotte, best-seller mondial". n°322. L'Histoire. p. 30.
^ a b J. Ormsby, "About Cervantes and Don Quixote" Archived 3
September 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Paul Kingsbury. "Lost in La Mancha" (PDF). Vanderbilt.edu. Archived
from the original (PDF) on 12 October 2013. Retrieved
^ "Cervantes Collection". www.sl.nsw.gov.au. 2015-06-19. Retrieved
^ See also the introduction to Cervantes, Miguel de (1984) Don
Quixote, Penguin p.18, for a discussion of Cervantes's statement in
response to Avellaneda's attempt to write a sequel.
^ Prestage, Edgar (1928). Chivalry. p. 110.
^ "Library catalogue of the Cervantes Institute of Belgrade". Archived
from the original on 14 August 2007. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
^ a b Sieber, Harry. "
Don Quixote in Translation". The Don Quixote
Exhibit, Tour 2, Chapter 5. George Peabody Library. 1996. Retrieved 26
^ "Translator's Preface: About this translation".
Don Quixote by
Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by John Ormsby. Archived from the
original on 23 August 2010.
^ "Proverb "Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating"".
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, translated by Tobias Smollett,
Introduction and Notes by Carole Slade; Barnes and Noble Classics, New
Project Gutenberg eBook of The Story of Don Quixote, by Arvid
Paulson, Clayton Edwards, and
Miguel de Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra".
Gutenberg.org. 20 July 2009. Archived from the original on 21 August
2013. Retrieved 2014-02-05.
^ Fuentes, Carlos (2 November 2003). "Tilt". New York Times.
^ Eder, Richard (14 November 2003). "Beholding Windmills and Wisdom
From a New Vantage". The New York Times.
^ McGrath, Michael J (2007). "Reviews:
Don Quixote trans. Tom Lathrop"
^ McGrath, Michael J (2010). "Reviews:
Don Quixote trans. James
Montgomery" (PDF). H-Net.
^ "El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha". Gutenberg.org. 27
April 2010. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved
^ Interview with Wasserman
Bloom, Harold (ed.) (2000). Cervantes's
Don Quixote (Modern Critical
Interpretations). Chelsea House Publishers. ISBN 0-7910-5922-7.
D' Haen, Theo (ed.) (2009). International Don Quixote. Editions Rodopi
B.V. ISBN 90-420-2583-2.
Echevarría, Roberto González (ed.) (2005). Cervantes' Don Quixote: A
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press USA. ISBN 0-19-516938-7.
Duran, Manuel and Rogg, Fay R. (2006). Fighting Windmills: Encounters
with Don Quixote. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11022-7.
Graf, Eric C. (2007). Cervantes and Modernity: Four Essays on Don
Quijote. Bucknell University Press. ISBN 978-1-61148-261-4.
Johnson, Carroll B (ed.) (2006). Don Quijote Across Four Centuries:
1605–2005. Juan de la Cuesta-Hispanic Monographs.
Pérez, Rolando. (2016). “What is Don Quijote/Don Quixote
And…And…And the Disjunctive Synthesis of Cervantes and Kathy
Acker.” Cervantes ilimitado: cuatrocientos años del Quijote. Ed.
Nuria Morgado. ALDEEU. ISBN 978-0-692-85635-2. See on
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El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha
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Cervantine Collection of the Biblioteca de Catalunya
Miguel de Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes Collection has rare first volumes in multiple
languages of Don Quixote. From the Rare Book and
Division at the Library of Congress.
Miguel de Cervantes's
Don Quixote (1606/1615)
Dulcinea del Toboso
Ginés de Pasamonte
The Comical History of Don Quixote (1694 play)
Double Falsehood (1727 play)
Don Quichotte auf der Hochzeit des Comacho (1761 opera)
Don Quixote (1869 ballet)
Don Quixote (1898 opera)
Don Quichotte (1910 opera)
La Mancha (1964 musical)
Don Quixote (1923)
Don Quixote (1933)
Don Quixote (1947)
Don Quixote (1955–1969, unfinished)
Don Quixote (1957)
Don Chisciotte and Sancio Panza
Don Chisciotte and Sancio Panza (1968)
La Mancha (1972)
Don Quijote cabalga de nuevo (1973)
Don Quixote (2000)
Donkey Xote (2007)
Don Quixote (2010)
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018
I, Don Quixote (1959 teleplay)
The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda
List of works influenced by Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes
The Siege of Numantia
El retablo de las maravillas (es)
La cueva de Salamanca
El juez de los divorcios (es)
El viejo celoso (es)
"Rinconete y Cortadillo"
"El licenciado Vidriera"
"La española inglesa (es)"
"El celoso extremeño"
"La ilustre fregona"
"El coloquio de los perros"
Viaje del Parnaso
Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda
Casa de Cervantes
BNF: cb11937284k (data)