First published in 1605, and the second part in 1615, Don Quixote was written to ridicule what were then, for Cervantes, all too prevalent tales of the heroic adventures of knights, and the idle escapism of indulging in such stories. Cervantes even goes so far as to address us as ‘Idle Reader’ in his preface to the book, ridiculing his audience for the very fact that they are reading fiction. But Don Quixote is different from most fiction books in that it contains strong, philosophical undertones. It is widely quoted as one of, if not the best fiction work ever written, for both its humour and its deeper message.
“he so immersed himself in those romances that he spent whole days and nights over his books; and thus with little sleeping and much reading his brains dried up to such a degree that he lost the use of his reason”
Don Quixote follows the adventures of the deluded titular character, who gets in to all manner of absurd situations due to the fact that, after reading tales about Knights for years on end, his ability to reason disintegrates, and he sets out to emulate the subjects of his obsession. What follows is some of the most senseless, farcical literature ever written; such happenings include Don Quixote mistaking a small inn for a castle, and attacking 4 merchants whom he believes are criminals. He is accompanied by his short, fat squire Sancho, whom although can be ridiculed for the very fact that he is supporting and following Don Quixote, and that he rides around on an ass, is actually quite wise, and is similar to the character of the wise man of low station, much like the fool in King Lear.
“I sometimes think that all you tell me of knighthood, kingdoms, empires and islands is all windy blather and lies”
What begins as a hilarious parody (and it still retains this hilarity) turns into a deeper, philosophical commentary about identity and perception. Whether you seek a lengthy, riveting story, a greatly amusing read or deep reflections on humanity, you will find it in this book. From mistaking windmills for giants to doing battle with sheep, Don Quixote remains a widely read classic, for good reason.
“He had scarcely gone a short league, when Fortune, that was conducting his affairs from good to better, discovered to him the road, where he also espied an Inn. Sancho positively maintained it was an Inn, and his master that it was a castle”