The Travels of Don Quixote, Part 1

Don Quijote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, is a satire on chivalry and a masterpiece of world literature. This tour visits scenes from the novel.

This story was created for the Google Expeditions project by Carlos Alvar & Elisa Borsari, now available on Google Arts & Culture

Don Quixote’s First Sally

“In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for coursing."

An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or so extra on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of his income.” (Quixote, I: 1)

Products of La Mancha

La Mancha is a high plateau in central Spain, known for its vineyards. Besides wine, its best-known products are Miguel de Cervantes and the comic characters he created.

The Story Begins

Don Quixote, who has recently lost his reason from reading so many books of chivalry, decides to become a knight equal to the heroes of his books and to sally forth upon the lands of La Mancha in search of adventures and heroic deeds. 

Don Quixote On the Road

“So he went on stringing together these and other absurdities . . . and all the while he rode so slowly and the sun mounted so rapidly and with such fervour that it was enough to melt his brains if he had any.” (Quixote I: 1)

On his journey Quixote confuses reality and fiction.

Don Quixote Achieves Knighthood

 “I have to tell you that the boon I have asked and your liberality has granted is that you shall dub me knight tomorrow morning, and that tonight I shall watch my arms in the chapel of this your castle;"

"...thus tomorrow, as I have said, will be accomplished what I so much desire, enabling me lawfully to roam through all the four quarters of the world seeking adventures on behalf of those in distress.” (Quixote I:3)

An Ancient Inn

This building, now a popular restaurant, is a typical inn of Cervantes’s time. In his day the inn would have rooms, food and drink for travelers, as well as money-changing services. Don Quixote became a knight at an inn like this one, and in this very town of Puerto Lápice.

The Ceremony of Knighthood

In his madness, Don Quixote believes the inn to be a castle and the innkeeper to be the castle’s lord. After Quixote goes through the ceremonies that he’s learned from romances, the wily innkeeper dubs the crazy old man a knight and sends him home to get money.

Puerto Lápice

Because it is one of the few towns mentioned by name in the novel, the town of Puerto Lápice is a popular stop on the Cervantes tourist route.

Don Quixote’s Second Sally

“Sancho rode on his ass like a patriarch . . . longing to see himself soon governor of the island his master had promised him. Don Quixote decided upon taking the same route and road he had taken on his first journey, that over the Campo de Montiel . . .” (Quixote I,7)

Sancho Panza, Squire

On his second quest for adventure, Don Quixote brings along a farm laborer “with very little wit in his pate.” Sancho Panza acts as Quixote’s squire and bolsters his imaginary knighthood. Sancho is foolishly seduced by the old man’s romantic visions.

Don Quixote’s Hometown?

Villanueva de los Infantes is one of several towns claiming to be the village “the name of which I have no desire to call to mind,” from which Don Quixote first sallied forth on a hot morning in July.

Don Quixote Tilts at Windmills

"Fortune is arranging matters for us better than we could have shaped our desires ourselves, for look there, friend Sancho Panza, where thirty or more monstrous giants present themselves, all of whom I mean to engage in battle and slay..."

"...and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortunes; and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortunes; for this is righteous warfare, and it is God's good service to sweep so evil a breed from off the face of the earth." (Quixote I, 8)

A Common-sense View

“ ‘Look, your worship,’ said Sancho; ‘what we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the sails that turned by the wind make the millstone go.’"

"‘It is easy to see,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘that thou art not used to this business of adventures.’ “(Quixote I, 8)

The Tale of Marcela

"[Marcela] has shown by clear and satisfactory arguments that little or no fault is to be found with her for the death of Chrysostom, and also how far she is from yielding to the wishes of any of her lovers..."

for which reason, instead of being followed and persecuted, she should in justice be honored and esteemed by all the good people of the world."

A Pastoral Interlude

The tragic story of Marcela, a shepherdess so beautiful that men die for love of her, is one of many tales embedded in the larger narrative of Don Quixote. It is an example of the pastoral romance, a popular form of literature. 

An early work by Cervantes, the Galatea (1585) is an example of this genre.

Hiding in the Hills

“He on his part was rejoiced to the heart on entering the mountains, as they seemed to him to be just the place for the adventures he was in quest of. 

They brought back to his memory the marvelous adventures that had befallen knights-errant in like solitudes and wilds, and he went along reflecting on these things, so absorbed and carried away by them that he had no thought for anything else.” (Quixote I, 23)

A Timely Retreat

After “heroically” freeing some captive galley slaves who then attack and rob them, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza retire to the mountains, one step ahead of the Holy Brotherhood, who are pursuing them for helping dangerous criminals to escape.

The Madman Imitates Madness

Quixote decides that he will do penance for being rejected by his lady love, by imitating the chivalric hero Amadis of Gaul and going mad with grief. “The thing is to turn crazy without any provocation,” he explains to Sancho, “and let my lady know.”

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