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Miguel de Cervantes: Don Quixote Audio Book Summary
Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, is regarded by the Spanish-speaking world as a literary giant, more or less equivalent to the titanic stature of William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, in the English-speaking world. His literary reputation rests primarily on his seminal novel Don Quixote, which tells the tale of a man who is either insane with delusions of grandeur or who has become so fed up with the world that he pretends to be insane to teach everyone around him a lesson.
The novel opens on Don Quixote’s tumbledown estate, which was once a place of splendour. Due to long centuries of mismanagement and foolish dreams, it has fallen into disrepair, and the debt collectors are knocking at the Don’s ramshackle door. So, with just his family’s one remaining loyal servant in tow, he gets out his family’s ancient sword, shield, and armor, and his one old horse, and sets out on a quest.
The purpose of this quest is unclear. Variously, there are maidens to be rescued and villains to be slain, but nothing is constant. He doesn’t make it very far from his estate before he comes upon a tavern, and he doesn’t make it very far into the tavern before he sets his eyes upon a pretty young serving girl. He demands to know what royal family she is from, for she is surely a princess, having such beauty, and he demands to know who is keeping her imprisoned in a low-down dirty dungeon such as this (keep in mind, he is actually in a tavern).
She laughs at him, as do all the patrons of the tavern, but he pays it no mind ñ he doesn’t even seem to notice. After accosting a few of the tavern’s local regulars demanding details and information about how he can rescue this not-quite-a-damsel, he sets off to fight whoever’s keeping her prisoner. Conveniently, nearby, he comes upon a giant and charges it with his mighty lance, dealing it a fearsome blow. The giant is, in fact, a windmill. After savaging the windmill with his sword for a time, he considers it conquered.
Continuing his journey, he comes upon another princess ñ this time, his princess is a girl in a carraige, accompanied by two friars. He accuses the poor old friars of being enchanters who are keeping the girl prisoner for their own nefarious purposes, and frightens them away. He takes the girl with him ñ she is at this point most likely terrified, having been abducted by an insane man with a sword raving about giants and other villains. Continuing his journey, he encounters a group of muleteers – that is, men who lead mules. The muleteers insult his princess, and he attempts to fight them, but being a rather infirm fellow, the muleteers beat him nearly to a pulp and leave him by the side of the road.
The Don is then returned to his home by a sympathetic peasant, and his adventures thus end in ignominy. Most literary critics see the book as making fun of people who romanticized the days of chivalry and wished to return to them without really understanding how terrible it was to live in such times.