Sancho leaves to get the student who had told him about the book. Quixote is surprised that his adventures have been recorded so promptly, but assumes that a book about a knight errant must be accurate and admiring. Sancho returns with Sansón Carrasco, the young student from Salamanca, who tells Don Quixote that he has become the most famous knight in the world, since people everywhere are reading about his marvelous adventures. They complain only that the history includes irrelevant stories like “The Tale of Inappropriate Curiosity.”
One of the main themes of the first half of the history is the relationship between Quixote’s life and books of chivalry. Now, Quixote’s own life has become a chivalry book – in a way, his dream has come true. The second half of the history will describe the relationship between his life and the book of his life. He will have to contend with his own literary double, a ghostly byproduct of self-invention.
Quixote asks Carrasco whether the book described every adventure in detail, hoping that it has omitted some of the more embarrassing ones. But Carrasco explains that historians must describe events truthfully, while poets can describe events “not as they were but as they should have been.”
Right away, Quixote is a little anxious about this double. Is he just like him, or perhaps worse or better? Quixote has the idealistic impulse to edit out the more naturalistic and embarrassing aspects of the novel.
Carrasco tells Sancho that he is also an important and beloved character in the book, which is read by children and adults, servants and lords, so that every skinny horse in sight becomes a Rocinante. Everyone finds it delightful and harmless because every word is “wholesome” and “Catholic.” Quixote says almost in one breath that a book about his deeds must be glorious and beloved, and that very few people must enjoy such a book. Carrasco explains again that the book is widely beloved, though some criticize its inconsistencies: who stole Sancho’s donkey, and when was it returned? What happened to the gold coins Sancho found in the sierra? After lunch, the conversation resumes.
The student Carrasco tells us several very important things about the first volume of the history. First, it is an equalizer: people of all ages and social stations enjoy it. Quixote believes that knight-errantry should blur class distinctions, and in a small way he has succeeded. Second, Carrasco says that all skinny horses have become Rocinantes. Quixote’s adventures have transformed the way people experience the world around them – in this small way, but, implicitly, in larger ways as well.