Alonso Quixano, a less-than-affluent man of fifty, “lean bodied” and “thin faced, lives modestly in the Spanish country village of La Mancha with his niece, Antonia, and a cranky housemaid. Practical in most things, compassionate to his social peers, the local clergy, and the servant classes, Quixano is respectful toward the ruling classes, whom he unquestioningly accepts as his superiors. He is driven neither by ambition for wealth and position nor bitterness at his genteel poverty.
Well read and thoughtful, Quixano’s most prized possessions are his books. From his readings and studies, he becomes by degrees interested, then obsessed, with the codes, deeds, and tales of chivalry — of knights errant on some courtly and idealized mission. As his appetite for the lore of chivalry increases, Quixano begins selling off acres of his farmlands, using the funds to buy more books, and increasingly throwing himself into his studies. “From little sleep and too much reading his brain dried up and he lost his wits. He had a fancy . . . to turn his passion knight errant and travel through the world with horse and armor in search of adventures” with the purpose of “redressing all manner of wrongs.”
At length, he is galvanized into action by his passion for the chivalric code. Outfitting himself with some old rusty armor, Quixano enlists his spavined hack horse to go forth in search of knightly adventures. Hopeful of finding a proper noble to dub him, Quixano finally is licensed in his venture by an innkeeper who believes him to be a lord of a manor. Now Quixano is “Don Quixote de La Mancha”; the tired hack and dray horse becomes elevated to “Rosinante.”
All the new knight needs now in order to venture forth is a lady to whose service he is sworn and a servant or page. For the former, he chooses Dulcinea del Tobosa, named after Aldonza Lorenzo, a farm girl whom he had been taken with at one time.
After three days on the road, Quixote encounters a group of traveling salesmen whom he attacks after they refuse to acknowledge Dulcinea’s great beauty. He is badly beaten by the servant of the salesman and forced to accept the help of a neighbor, who brings him home on the back of a donkey.
While he is recovering, Quixote is forced to watch as his housekeeper, a barber, and a priest burn all his books on chivalry in an attempt to persuade him to give up his improbable quest. But this only fuels Quixote’s determination. He persuades Sancho Panza, a plump, simple-minded-but-opportunistic laborer, to serve as his page, by playing on his ambitions. Don Quixote promises Sancho his own island to govern, for surely such a splendid knight as he is sure to become will soon take many spoils.
And so this pair set forth, Quixote on his spavined old horse, Panza mounted on Dapple, his mule. Their second adventure lasts for three weeks and is comprised of a series of events that comprise the balance of Book One. Among other things, Quixote battles windmills, thinking them to be giants. At an inn, which he mistakes for a castle, Quixote is visited in bed by a maid, who causes a great uproar when she discovers she has come to the wrong room. Refusing to pay the bill and accusing the innkeeper of being inhospitable, Quixote is rousted, only to fall promptly into another misadventure with a religious procession, and yet other ironic and error-prone encounters with locals.
I found this book very interesting because it had a modern feel to it as people are like this today sometimes even more so, I would definitely recommend this work of literature.