The company makes their way back to the inn where the two friends had stayed previously. The innkeeper and his wife welcome them cordially and prepare them a nice meal while Quixote takes a nap. When the innkeeper hears the priest mention the harmful effect of chivalry books on Quixote’s sanity, he wonders how this could be, for he sees many tired workers take great pleasure and find relief in these same books. His wife, servant, and daughter all agree.
Various characters debate the value of chivalry books on several occasions in the novel, and the debate usually circles around ideas of usefulness, instructiveness, and pleasure. The priest has claimed that only sensible, instructive books give true pleasure. But chivalry books are neither sensible nor instructive, and they give the innkeeper, his family, and many others genuine pleasure.
The priest asks to see these books, so that he can determine which of them are harmful and must be burned. The innkeeper objects to his condemnations, and the priest explains that the bad books are “full of lies, absurdities, and nonsense,” but the good books are all true. The innkeeper says that the truthful books are too boring and that he prefers books with magic in them. The priest scornfully points out that nothing in the books is true, and the innkeeper replies with equal scorn that he knows truth from lies, but that these books must be true enough if they were published with the royal seal. The priest notices some papers in the priest’s collection titled “The Tale of Inappropriate Curiosity,” and the priest offers to read the story out loud.
The underlying question, here, is: how can books that bring pleasure and relief to their readers be called harmful? The innkeeper says that the books must be true because they are stamped with the royal seal, but his words imply that something that brings people joy is true simply because it brings joy – because it takes shape so vividly and powerfully in their imaginations. This sort of truth relates closely to the novel’s perspectivism, the idea that no single worldview is absolutely true.