Don Quixote & Your Truly

Don Quixote novel is full of contradictions and paradox

“One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world was better for this.Don Quixote.”

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra writer of Don Quixote died on 22 April 1616. He was the contemporary of William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare was also died soon after his demise. It is a literary co-incidence.

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Cervantes was born in Alcala de Henares near Madrid, he was born into a middle class family. 1570 he joined army, during that time much of Italy was in Spanish possession. He fought in naval battle of Lepanto. Cervantes sustained a wound which permanently paralyzed his left hand.  We find his own life experience into Part I ‘The Captive’s Tale ‘writer was very proud to be a part of this battle. Then he took part in Spanish expeditions to Navarino 1572, Tunis 1573 on their return his ship was seized by Algerian corsairs. He was captive for 5 years. He was brought before Algerian King several times for organizing escape bids. Later he was left off without punishment.

He tried his hand in playwright but got a chance to publish prose fiction ‘ La Galatea’  first. In 1605 January he published Don Quixote Pt 2, this part is much based upon his own life and experiences.

He had a peculiar style of writing can be studied with following points

  • He narrated complexities of inter-cultural and sub-cultural differences
  • He always used story within a story technique
  • His writing offered a sense of intellectual and imaginative richness
  • His work was reciprocated in different ways into different centuries

17th Century – simply laughable, and a character as a self-deluding food

18th Century –A mad man but like able

19th century – which was known for romantic literature movement and its aftermath. He remained a heroic figure for poetic imagination – the eternal conflict of what is ideal and what is real

20th century – The crisis of 17th century recorded and narrated. A character of DQ who is on quest of personal identity

As a writer he was a revolutionist, it was a time when chivalry-romance writing was famous. Chivalry literature was confused into fantasy and reality.  He opposed it, made a parody into Don Quixote. He opposed all convention notions of hero, imagery and beliefs. The work is categorized as escapist fiction. He used all elements like William Shakespeare

Evil Wizards   – Enchanters – Impenetrable forests – Secret Glades – Mysterious palaces – painted injured rich – heraldic colors

We find the very existence of these elements into Spanish folktales, drama, paintings, literature and films even today.

Don Quixote was adopted into more than 19 films worldwide. Since 1935 to 2018.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky found his much famous characters and base for novel Idiot

Czech writer Franz Kafka used Don Quixote for his short story ‘The truth about Sacho Panza’

Pablo Picasso made this imaginary sketch

Salvador Dali made a series of 10 painting on Don Quixote

Richard Strass composed Man of la Mancha the musical

“As long as he fought imaginary giants, Don Quixote was just play-acting. However once he actually kills someone, he will cling to his fantasies for all he is worth, because only they give meaning to his tragic misdeed. Paradoxically, the more sacrifices we make for an imaginary story, the more tenaciously we hold on to it, because we desperately want to give meaning to those sacrifices and to the suffering we have caused.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow

 “When Don Quixote went out into the world, that world turned into a mystery before his eyes. That is the legacy of the first European novel to the entire subsequent history of the novel. The novel teaches us to comprehend the world as a question. There is wisdom and tolerance in that attitude.”

Milan Kundera, in his The Book of Laughter and Forgetting


Don Quixote inspired various filmmakers across globe. We often see self-deluding or fool characters who do sarcasm on political system or established beliefs in various films. Don Quixote has inspired many. Cervantes has given us a gift of poetic reality and writer use it create characters on whom we laugh for their innocent behavior and expectations. It is more than fiction where the writing guide us to give a second thought on narrative. We often find these characters into Bollywood cinema. We are at home with these characters that we willfully suspend our disbelief. I doff my hat to Don Quixote and Spanish literature.

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Published by Rahul Mate

Passionate about cinema, fine art, literature and photography, while teaching in media school Rahul Mate makes a little change into the life of people by connecting them with world of creative freedom.

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