This friend, who is called Don Antonio Moreno, decides to play some tricks on his guests. He takes Don Quixote into a room that is empty except for a bust on a slab and tells him that the bust was created by an enchanter, and can answer any question – except on Fridays, when it never speaks. Since it is Friday, they decide to test the statue the next day. Meanwhile, they go for a ride about town. Don Antonio secretly puts a sign on Don Quixote’s back that reads: “This is Don Quixote de la Mancha.” When Quixote hears everyone read it aloud, he thinks that he must be very famous.
This episode combines the Duke and Duchess’s egotistical and malicious pranking with Master Pedro’s “talking” monkey. Like the Duke and Duchess, Don Antonio tricks Quixote into feeling that he is very famous and well-respected. In reality Sancho and Quixote are quite famous, yet their real fame is replaced through this trick by false fame - a kind of subconscious humiliation.
The next day, Don Antonio leads Quixote, his wife, and some friends into the room with the bust. First, he asks the bust what he is thinking, and the bust replies that it does not read thoughts. Next, he asks it how many people are present in the room, and the bust replies correctly. One woman asks how to become beautiful; the bust tells her to be virtuous. Another asks whether her husband loves her, and bust advises her to observe his behavior. One man asks what his son wants; the statue tells him the son wants to bury him. After another couple of questions, Don Quixote steps forward and asks the bust three questions: were the adventures of the Cave of Montesinos real or dreamt? Will Sancho lash himself? Will Dulcinea be disenchanted? The bust replies that the adventure contained both reality and dreams, and answers in the affirmative to the other questions. Sancho complains that it gives obvious and roundabout answers.
Like Master Pedro, the bust gives general, fortune-cookie answers to every questioner. Such a technique is founded on the idealistic belief that people are ultimately all alike: all female beauty arises from virtue, all sons want to bury their fathers, and all strange experiences are part reality, part dream. This last fragment of common sense is the compromise the world offers to Quixote in exchange for his faith and his madness. The world teaches him that his fantasies are not more true than reality, but they do form a small part of that reality. It is a washed-out, ambiguous compromise.
Cide Hamete explains that the bust, pedestal, and slab were hollow and led down into the room below, where a clever man responded to the questions. Don Antonio amused himself and his guests with the bust until the inquisitors ordered him to take it apart. One day during his visit, Don Quixote wanders by a printing house and decides to go inside. A man shows him a book he has translated from Italian. Quixote praises the art of translation and describes its shortcomings and difficulties; a translation, he says, is like a tapestry seen from the wrong side. He also sees some people working on the second part of his own history and tells them the book should be burned.
Quixote repeats a familiar wisdom: a translation is always in some sense lacking in comparison to the original. More specifically, his metaphor suggests that the original is blurred by wrong-colored threads, and that a translation is inherently messy and disorderly. This theory applies to the entire novel, which is itself (Cervantes would like us to believe) a revision of a translation. Cervantes purposely discolors and disorders his novel, because fiction is always an imperfect translation from life.