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Don Quixote, fully titled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, is a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It follows the adventures of Alonso Quixano, an hidalgo who reads so many chivalric novels that he decides to set out to revive chivalry, under the name Don Quixote. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthly wit in dealing with Don Quixote's rhetorical orations on antiquated knighthood. Don Quixote is met by the world as it is, initiating such themes as intertextuality, realism, metatheatre, and literary representation.
The First Sally
Alonso Quixano, the protagonist of the novel, is a retired country gentleman nearing fifty years of age, living in an unnamed section of La Mancha with his niece and housekeeper. While mostly a rational man of sound reason, his reading of books of chivalry in excess has had a profound effect on him, leading to the distortion of his perception and the wavering of his mental faculties. In essence, he believes every word of these books of chivalry to be true though, for the most part, the content of these books is clearly fiction. Otherwise, his wits are intact.
He decides to sally forth as a knight-errant in search of adventure. He dons an old suit of armour, renames himself "Don Quixote," and names his skinny horse "Rocinante". He designates Aldonza Lorenzo, a neighboring farm girl, as his lady love, renaming her Dulcinea del Toboso, while she knows nothing of this.
He sets out in the early morning and ends up at an inn, which he believes to be a castle. He asks the innkeeper, whom he thinks to be the lord of the castle, to dub him a knight. He spends the night holding vigil over his armor, where he becomes involved in a fight with muleteers who try to remove his armor from the horse trough so that they can water their mules. The innkeeper then dubs him a knight to be rid of him, and sends him on his way.
Don Quixote next "frees" a young boy who is tied to a tree and beaten by his master and makes his master swear on the chivalric code to treat the boy fairly. The boy's beating is continued as soon as Quixote leaves. Don Quixote has a run-in with traders from Toledo, who "insult" the imaginary Dulcinea. He attacks them, only to be severely beaten and left on the side of the road. Don Quixote is found and returned to his home by a neighboring peasant.
The Second Sally
While Don Quixote is unconscious in his bed, his niece, the housekeeper, the parish curate, and the local barber secretly burn most of the books of chivalry, and seal up his library pretending that a magician has carried it off. After a short period of feigning health, Don Quixote approaches his neighbor, Sancho Panza, and asks him to be his squire, promising him governorship of an island. The uneducated Sancho agrees, and the pair sneak off in the early dawn. It is here that their series of famous adventures begin, starting with Don Quixote's attack on windmills that he believes to be ferocious giants.
The two next encounter a group of friars accompanying a lady in a carriage. The friars are heavily cloaked, as is the lady, to protect themselves from the hot climate and dust on the road. Don Quixote takes the friars to be enchanters who hold the lady captive. He knocks a friar from his horse, and is immediately challenged by an armed Basque traveling with the company. As he has no shield, the Basque uses a pillow to protect himself, which saves him when Don Quixote strikes him. The combat ends with the lady leaving her carriage and commanding those traveling with her to "surrender" to Don Quixote.