|Full title||The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha [permalink]|
|Original title||El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha|
|Authors||Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (author) and John Ormsby (translator)|
|Publisher||[e-book: Project Gutenberg]|
|Categories||Novel, parody and satire|
|Original publication year||1605|
Alonso Quixano is a hidalgo (noble-born gentleman) from La Mancha who spends his time devouring popular romance novels (romance novels back then meant books of chivalry, unlike today). The novel opens with his becoming so obsessed with them that he starts deluding himself into thinking he's a knight-errant, a vagrant knight in shining armor slaying dragons, rescuing princesses, righting wrongs, helping the helpless, and, of course, fighting giants disguised as windmills.
Despite his being well-spoken, and in every sense rational, about this one point of being an old-fashioned knight he is stark raving mad; Don Quixote manages to rationalize (explain away) all his delusions, most of the time relying on a malevolent sage intent on enchanting everything from windmills (giants) to inns (castles) to a barber's water basin (the Helmet of Mambrino).
Very quickly (and later in the novel, often) Don Quixote gets into trouble. He is round and about seeking adventure when he comes upon some traders who are making fun of his beloved Dulcinea del Toboso. Not taking that lightly he engages them in combat, and is soundly beaten. A humble farmer from Quixote's home town, Sancho Panza, takes care of him and after being promised an island to rule over once they are done adventuring, Panza joins Quixote as his trusted squire, always being the sense to Quixote's nonsense.
This is an exceedingly funny novel. There are some scattered bits of seriousness here and there (even a novella quoted — or rather told by one of the characters — mostly in its entirety, taking up three chapters) but whenever Don Quixote re-enters the scene, expect hilarity to ensue.