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When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!

Cervantes’ Don Quixote

A mad knight-errant charges at windmills, thinking they’re giants, while his squire looks on, perplexed by his master’s strange behavior. The protagonist’s blend of idealism and impracticality has been distilled into a mere adjective, “quixotic”.

By Erica Eller

1547-1616 CE

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

What we now consider one novel, the first modern novel, was originally published as two books. The first volume was published in 1605 and it became widely popular. Its “sequel” (in contemporary terms) was published in 1615. Cervantes apparently had to hurry to finish the second volume because another author, Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda, had already produced an apocryphal second volume, which Cervantes pokes fun at in his own text. This review focuses solely on the first volume, with its many minor characters whose stories are framed by Don Quixote’s misadventures. Many of these secondary plots involve characterizations that capture a broad cross section of society in Early Modern Spain.

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