And to what can my barren and ill-cultivated mind give birth except the history of a dry, shriveled child, whimsical and full of extravagant fancies that nobody else has ever imagined – a child born, after all, in prison, where every discomfort has its seat and every dismal sound its habitation?
… from beginning to end [the book] is an invective against books of chivalry ... All that has to be done is to make the best use of imitation in what one writes.
In short, our hidalgo was soon so absorbed in these books that his nights were spent reading from dusk till dawn, and his days from dawn till dusk, until the lack of sleep the excess of reading withered his brain, and he went mad. … The idea that this whole fabric of famous fabrications was real so established itself in his mind that no history in the world was truer for him.
There is no reason why someone with a plebeian name should not be a knight, for every man is the child of his own deeds.
I know who I am … and I know that I can be not only all of those whom I have mentioned, but every one of the Twelve Peers of France, and every one of the Nine Worthies as well, because all the deeds performed by them both singly and together will be exceeded by mine.
But Don Quixote was so convinced that they were giants that he neither heard his squire Sancho’s shouts nor saw what stood in front of him.
… historians should and must be precise, truthful and unprejudiced, without allowing self-interest or fear, hostility or affection, to turn them away from the path of truth, whose mother is history.
… for in those very many [histories] that I have read, I have not found any mention of knights errant eating, except when it happened that some sumptuous banquet was held for them, but otherwise they used to live on next to nothing.
… for of knight-errantry may be said what is said of love, that it makes all things equal.
…wondering whether the beating was dishonorable or not doesn’t bother me in the slightest – all that does bother me is the pain of those staff-blows.
… a knight adventurer, to cut a long story short, is someone who’s being beaten up one moment and being crowned emperor the next.
…Cide Mahamate Benengeli was a careful and meticulous historian, something that’s obvious enough, for he refused to pass in silence over the happenings related so far, even though they’re so petty and trivial.
And the poor hidalgo was so besotted that neither touch nor smell nor any of the good maiden’s other attributes could make him notice his mistake, even though they’d have made anyone but a muleteer vomit.
Every minute of every hour of his imagination was filled with those battles, enchantments, adventures, loves, and challenges that books of chivalry recount, and everything he said, thought, or did was channeled into such affairs.
The trouble, my dear Alonzo López BA, arose from your coming, as you did, by night, wearing those surplices, with your torches blazing, praying, and dressed in mourning, looking exactly like something evil from the other world; and so I could not fail to fulfill my obligation to attack you.
What a string of absurdities you have come out with now, Sancho! What connection is there between what we are discussing and all those proverbs you have just threaded together?
…whatever I have done, am doing, and shall do is totally reasonable and in conformity with the rules of chivalry.
Let me add that when a painter wants to become famous for his art, he tries to copy originals by the finest artists he knows. And this same rule holds good for nearly all the trades and professions of importance that serve to adorn a society.
Is it possible that in all the time you have been with me you have failed to realize that all things appertaining to us knights errant seem like chimeras, follies, and nonsenses, because they have all been turned on their head? Not because that is their real state, but because we are always attended by a crew of enchanters.
…the poets themselves invent most of [their ladies], to have something to write their poetry about, and to make people think that they are in love and that they have it in them to be lovers.
It is not the responsibility of knights errant to discover whether the afflicted, the enchained, and the oppressed whom they encounter on the road are reduced to these circumstances and suffer their distress for the vices, or for their virtues: the knight’s sole responsibility is to succor them as people in need, having eyes only for their sufferings, not for their misdeeds.
That’s the kind of love… that I’ve heard in sermons we’re supposed to feel for our Lord – for his own sake, without being moved by hopes of glory or fears of punishment. Though I must say I’d prefer to love him for what he can do for me.
I don’t understand how that can be so, because to my mind there isn’t a better read anywhere in the world … at harvest time, you see, lots of the reapers come in here on rest-days, and there are always some who can read, and one of them picks up one of these books, and more than thirty of us gather around him, and we enjoy listening to it so much that it takes all our worries away.
A good woman is also like a mirror of clear, shining glass, but any breath that touches this mirror will cloud and dim it. She should be treated like a holy relic, adored but not touched.
It is possible that, since you have not been knighted, as I have, the enchantments in this place do not affect you, and that your understanding is unclouded, and that you can form judgments about the affairs of the castle as they really and truly are, rather than as they appeared to me.
But one man had been plunged into the deepest depths of despair, and that was the barber, whose basin, there before his very eyes, had turned into Mambrino’s helmet, and whose pack-saddle, he was very sure, was about to turn into the splendid caparisons of some handsome steed.
Yet maybe the chivalry and the enchanting of these times of ours follow different paths from those of earlier days.
I might be poor but I’m of old Christian stock, and I don’t owe anybody anything, and if I’m set on islands others are set on worse, and deeds make the man, and being as I am a man I can get to be pope let alone governor of an island. … You be careful what you say, mister barber, there are other things in life than shaving beards, and each man’s a little bit different from the next.
And even though the main point of such books is to amuse, I don’t know how they can succeed when they’re full of so many monstrous absurdities, because the soul can only take delight in the beauty and harmony that it sees or contemplates in what the eyes or the imagination places before it, and nothing than contains ugliness or disorder can give any pleasure.
…whereas drama should, as Cicero puts it, be a mirror of human life, an exemplar of customs and an image of truth, there modern plays are just mirrors of absurdity, exemplars of folly and images of lewdness.
… enchantment can take many different forms, and it could be that these have changed in the course of time, so that what happens nowadays is that the enchanted do all the things that I do, even though formerly they did not. So one cannot either argue against the customs of the times, or draw any conclusions from them.
I consider that it is you who are out of your senses and under some spell, for you have takes it upon yourself to utter such blasphemies against what has been so well received in the world and so widely accepted as the truth… Because trying to persuade someone that Amadis and all the other knights adventurers that pack the histories never existed is like trying to persuade him that the sun does not give out light, and that ice is not cold, and that the earth does not sustain us.
Speaking for myself, I can say that ever since I became a knight errant I have been courageous, polite, generous, well-bred, magnanimous, courteous, bold, gentle, patient and long-suffering in the face of toil, imprisonment, and enchantment.
O pride of your family, honour and glory of all La Mancha and all the world – now that you’ve gone from it, it’ll fill up with evil-doers who won’t be frightened of being punished for their wicked ways! ... O you who were humble to the haughty and haughty to the humble, tackler of dangers, taker of insults, in love without a cause, imitator of the good, scourge of the wicked, enemy of villains – in a word, knight errant, and that says it all!
I am merely striving to make the world understand the delusion under which it labours in not renewing within itself the happy days when the order of knight-errantry carried all before it. But these depraved times of ours do not deserve all those benefits enjoyed by the ages when knights errant accepted as their responsibility and took upon their shoulders the defense of kingdoms, the relief of damsels, the succour of orphans and wards, and chastisement of the arrogant and the rewarding of the humble.
I have often, on different occasions and with different people, attempted to expose this almost universal misconception to the light of truth; … truth so palpable that I can almost say I have seen Amadis of Gaul with my own eyes.
We shall soon see where this great fabric of absurdities leaves this knight and this squire – anyone would think they’d been made in the same mold, and that the madness of the master wouldn’t be worth a farthing without the foolishness of the man.
It’s so very intelligible that it doesn’t pose any difficulties at all: children leaf through it, adolescents read it, grown men understand it and old men praise it, and, in short, it’s so well-thumbed and well-perused and well-known by all kinds of people that as soon as they see a skinny nag pass by they say: “Look, there goes Rocinante.” And the people who have most taken to it are the page-boys. There’s not a lord’s antechamber without its Quixote. … All in all, this history provides the most delightful and least harmful entertainment ever, because nowhere in it can one find the slightest suspicion of language that isn’t wholesome or thoughts that aren’t Catholic.
… there is a great confusion among lineages, and the only families who show themselves to be great and illustrious are those that display these qualities in the virtue, wealth and generosity of their paterfamilias. I say virtue, wealth and generosity because the great man who is sin-ridden can only be a great sinner, and the wealthy man who is not generous will be nothing but a miserly beggar. … The poor gentleman has no means of showing that he is a gentleman other than by his virtue: being affable, well-bred, courteous and considerate and solicitous; … and anybody who sees him adorned with these virtues of which I speak, even if he does not know him, cannot fail to consider that he is a man of good stock.
… the envy that some evil enchanter must feel for all my affairs transforms all things that can give me pleasure into shapes quite unlike their real ones; and so I fear that if perchance the author of the history of my exploits that is said to be in print is some hostile sage, he has no doubt altered everything, mingling a thousand lies with one truth.
And so, O Sancho, our works must not stray beyond the limits imposed by the Christian religion that we profess. In slaying giants, we must slay pride; in our generosity and magnanimity, we must slay envy; in our tranquil demeanor and serene disposition, we must slay anger; in eating as little as we do and keeping vigil as much as we do, we must slay gluttony and somnolence; in our faithfulness to those whom we have made the mistresses of our thoughts, we must slay lewdness and lust; in wandering all over the world in search of opportunities to become famous knights as well as good Christians, we must slay sloth.
Look here, you heretic: have I not told you over and over again that in all the days of my life I have never seen the peerless Dulcinea, and have never crossed the threshold of her palace, and am enamoured only by hearsay of her fame as a beautiful and intelligent lady?
…the truth might be stretched thin but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.
On my faith as a knight errant… when I saw this cart I imagined that it heralded some great adventure, and now I do declare that appearances must be examined closely to discover the hidden truth.
And do not imagine, sir, that by “vulgar crowd” I mean only the humble lower orders: everyone who is ignorant, even if he is a lord and a pillar of the community, can and should be considered one of the vulgar crowd.
[Knight-errantry] is a subject … that contains within itself all or most of the other subjects in the world.
Nothing that is directed at a virtuous end… can or should be called deception.
I cannot bring myself to believe that everything recorded in this chapter happened to the brave Don Quixote exactly as described… Yet I can’t believe that Don Quixote was lying, because he was the most honest hidalgo and the noblest knight of his time: he couldn’t have told a lie to save himself from being executed. … so I merely record it, without affirming either that it is false or that it is true.
…the ploy of these enchanters who pursue me is to place before my eyes things as they are, and then change them into what they want them to be.
An ass you are, an ass you will remain and an ass you will still be when you end your days on this earth, and it is my belief that when you come to breathe your last you still will not have grasped the fact that you are an animal.
Although they look like water-mils, that is not what they are: I have already told you that enchantments transfigure al things and deprive them of their natural forms. I don’t mean to say that they really convert them from one thing into another, but that it seems as if they do.
In this adventure two mighty enchanters must have clashed headlong, and one of them impedes whatever the other attempts: one provided me with the boat, the other knocked me out of it. May God send a remedy; for everything in this world is trickery, stage machinery, every part of it working against every other part. I have done all I can.
…Don Quixote was amazed by what was happening; and that was the first day when he was fully convinced that he was a real knight errant, not a fantasy one, seeing himself treated in the same way as he’d read that such knights used to be treated in centuries past.
My intentions are always directed towards worthy ends, that is to say to do good to all and harm nobody; and whether the man who believes this, puts it into practice and devotes his life to it deserves to be called a fool is something for Your Graces, most excellent Duke and Duchess, to determine.
… and even if everything did turn out the opposite of how I believe it will, no amount of malice will be able to obscure the glory of having undertaken this exploit.
…the Dolorous Duenna’s face is indeed the butler’s, but this does not mean to say that the butler is the Dolorous Duenna; for if he were, this would imply a major contradiction, and now is not the time to make sure enquiries, which would take us into inextricable labyrinths.
I consider it a good omen, my friends, to have seen what I have just seen, because these saintly knights professed, as I myself profess, the exercise of arms; but the difference between them and me is that they were saints, and fought in the manner of angels, and I am a sinner, and fight in the manner of men.
Yes, you eat up, friend Sancho … sustain life, which is of more interest to you than to me, and let me die at the hands of my thoughts and in the grasp of my misfortunes. I was born, Sancho, to live dying, and you were born to die eating.
I say it was an inn because that’s what Don Quixote called it, contrary to his habit of calling all inns castles.
And yet it seems to me that translating from one language into another, except from those queens of languages, Greek and Latin, is like viewing Flemish tapestries from the wrong side, when, although one can make out the figures, they are covered by threads that obscure them, and one cannot appreciate the smooth finish of the right side.
What I can tell you is that there’s no such thing as fortune, and whatever happens in this world, good and bad, does not occur by chance, but by special providence of heaven; and for this reason it is often said that every man is the architect of his own fortune. And I have been the architect of mine, but not with the necessary prudence, and so my presumption has led to disaster.
… the treasures of knights errant are like fairy gold, false and illusory.
They dismounted at an inn, which Don Quixote recognized as such and not as a castle with its deep moat, towers, portcullises and drawbridge; because now that he’d been defeated his judgment on all subjects was sounder, as will soon be shown.
My mind has been restored to me, and it is now clear and free, without those gloomy shadows of ignorance cast over me by my wretched, obsessive reading of those detestable books of chivalry. Now I can recognize their absurdity and their deceitfulness, and my only regret is that this discovery has come so late that it leaves me no time to make amends by reading other books that might be a light for my soul.
You must congratulate me, my good sirs, because I am no longer Don Quixote de la Mancha but Alonso Quixano, for whom my way of life earned me the nickname of “the Good”. I am now the enemy of Amadis of Gaul and the whole infinite horde or his descendants; now all those profane histories of knight-errantry are odious to me; now I acknowledge my folly and the peril in which I was placed by reading them; now, by God’s mercy, having at long last learned my lesson, I abominate them all.