Don Quixote: Notes

Don Quixote: Notes

Don Quixote: Notes

Don Quixote: Notes


The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background.


  • Life and Background of the Author
  • Critical Commentaries
  • Critical Essays
  • Essay Topics and Review Questions
  • Selected Bibliography

    Cervantes himself states that he wrote Don Quixote in order to undermine the influence of those "vain and empty books of chivalry" as well as to provide some merry, original, and sometimes prudent material for his readers’ entertainment. Whether or not the author truly believed the superficiality of his own purpose is immaterial; in fact, Cervantes did make a complete end to further publications of chivalric romances. Despite the harmful extravagances of these novels, this form of writing has one advantage over more truthful literary forms, Cervantes writes in the latter section of Part I, for chivalry “offers a wide and spacious meadow through which the pen may run without any hindrance.” Perhaps Don Quixote owes his genesis to these notions of his author. But as Cervantes launches his idealistic and possessed hero on a career open to public contempt, the possibilities of a many-leveled, kaleidoscopic theme must have become apparent very early.

  • Excerpt


    Unable to recommend his “stepchild” to his readers with laudations or apologies, Cervantes writes that “though I bestowed some time in writing the book, yet it cost me not half so much labor as this very preface.” Stalemated at this task of preface-writing, he welcomes the intrusion of a friend and complains to him of his difficulty. The friend laughs at such a simple problem, and Cervantes transcribes the wise counsel he receives. To make the work appear scholarly, his friend advises him to insert random Latin phrases among his sentences in the most appropriate contexts. Cervantes must provide footnotes as well, phrasing these in glib, pseudo-scientific language. Finally, for an impressive bibliography, he should copy the entire alphabetical index of authors out of some book that has such a list and incorporate it as part of . . .

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