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"Not To Mince Words"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Mincier is Old French and means "to make small," as to mince meat, or "to diminish in importance." The novelist, having completed his book, is tempted to let it go into the world "naked as it was born, without the addition of a preface, or the numberless trumpery of commendatory sonnets, epigrams, and other poems that usually usher in the concepts of authors." However Prefaces are traditional, and Cervantes wants to state his purpose in the novel, "the destruction of that monstrous heap of ill-contrived romances of chivalry." As he continues pondering how to begin:

. . . an ingenious gentleman, and of a merry disposition came in and surprised me. He asked me what I was so very intent and thoughtful upon? I was so free with him as not to mince the matter, but told him plainly I had been puzzling my brain for a preface to Don Quixote.