The narrator begins by expressing his disappointment that such a wonderful story ended so prematurely, and says that a great knight like Don Quixote deserves to have a sage of his own to record all of his deeds and thoughts – since all the knights of old had such sages. Since some of the books in Quixote’s library are recent, after finishing the first part of the history the author determined to search for the continuation of the knight’s story. He says that he found it in a heap of papers for sale in Toledo, written entirely in Arabic by a historian called Cide Hamete Benengeli. He paid a Moorish man (a term then applied to Muslim people of Arabic or African descent) to translate the entire text.
Here begins a complicated tangle regarding authorship. The author explains that he looked for a continuation of Quixote’s tale after reading the first eight chapters: this means that he is not their author, but something like their collector. He pieced together the first eight chapters with the translation of the rest. Of course, we readers know that this authorship story is only a sub-narrative of the novel. Cervantes wrote the book from beginning to end.
The first notebook begins with an illustration of the moment before the fight between Don Quixote and the coachman. Rocinante looks very skinny and weak, and Sancho is short and round. The author notes that the following history might be inaccurate, since, he says, it is widely known that Arabic people often lie, and the author probably did not quite do justice to Quixote’s adventures. This is reprehensible, says the author, because histories must be absolutely accurate and unbiased, since “history is the mother of truth.” If the book is flawed in any way, it is this Benengeli’s fault and not Quixote’s.
Both the narrator and the characters express racist opinions about Muslim people and Jewish people. The Spanish Inquisition began in 1478, a little over a century before Cervantes wrote his novel, and Quixote’s time is characterized by heightened religious hostilities. It’s possible that the book’s racism is meant to accurately depict the historical period.
This new history begins by saying that the coachman delivered the first blow, which took off part of Don Quixote’s helmet and half his ear on his left side. Then the angry knight struck the coachman very hard straight on the head, so that the heavily bleeding man fell off his horse. Quixote agreed not to kill the coachman once the frightened ladies in the coach promised to meet with Dulcinea and tell her about his great victory.
Quixote’s imagined knightly adventures result in very real physical injuries. In Quixote’s pain and wounds, the real and the imagined worlds collide. Quixote is not simply walking around in a fantasy land, as children do: the real world crashes into Quixote’s imagined world and demands recognition.