Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary

The Quality and Manner of Life of the Renowned Don Quixote de la Mancha

In the village of La Mancha lives a fifty-year-old man, an old-fashioned gentleman who always has with him a lance, an old target, a scrawny horse, and a greyhound. He eats more beef than mutton and three-fourths of his income is spent on food; he spends the rest on velvet robe and slippers for holidays and a suit of the very best homespun cloth for the rest of the year. His family includes a fortyish housekeeper, a teen-aged niece, and a serving man who works both inside and outside of the estate and can saddle a horse. The gentleman is fit and hearty, a lover of hunting, and according to tradition his surname is Quixana, though that is not a certainty.

When the gentleman has nothing to do with his days (which is often for this gentleman), he reads books about knight-errantry. He is so absorbed by his reading that he sells off good land in order to purchase more romances, books about knights, damsels, chivalry, and service. Soon he owns every book on the subject. Some of the writing he does not understand and some adventures he does not like as well as others; however, he so wholly devotes himself to his reading that he spends all of his days and nights doing it.

The lack of sleeping and eating causes the gentleman to lose his reason. Now his books have come to life in his mind, and his head is full only of enchantments, quarrels, battles, challenges, wounds, armor, and tournaments: an “abundance of…impossibilities, insomuch, that all the fables and fantastical tales which he read seem to him now as true as the most authentic histories.” He has his favorite knights, among them Bernardo del Carpio who killed Orlando; the giant Morgante is among his favorites because he was civil, though he came from a monstrous brood.

Of all the men in the world, though, the gentleman most of all admires Rinaldo of Montalvan for his...

(The entire section is 577 words.)