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11 Famous Quotes on Books and Reading from Don Quixote

Jorge Sette By Jorge Sette Published on April 20, 2016
This article was updated on June 30, 2017

Don Quixote de La Mancha, written by Miguel de Cervantes and published at the beginning of the 17th century, is one of the founding novels of western literature. It’s a seminal work that has influenced writers and artists for the past 400 years. Many claim the novel belongs in the burlesque and comedic genre. Others think the themes are a lot deeper than they appear at first sight and that the book is really a tragedy.

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Don Quixote in the Mountains by Daumier, Honoré. 1850

Don Quixote is the story of a 50-year-old man, named Quixada, from the lower echelons of the Spanish aristocracy, who lives peacefully with his niece and a housekeeper in the region of La Mancha, in the central part of Spain. 

He doesn't have much to do, and, as a result, spends most of his time reading. He favors books of chivalry: tales of knights, dragons, and damsels in distress. 

As a consequence of such excessive reading, our hero becomes mentally unhinged. He believes he must become a knight himself and that his job is to roam the countryside fighting for justice and for the underdog, battling giants, scoundrels, and infidels. His efforts are dedicated to the imaginary Dulcinea del Taboso, a fair maiden, created by his madness. Dulcinea is, in fact, a neighboring farmer who knows nothing of this honor.

Quixada renames himself Don Quixote, dons an old suit of armor that belonged to his grandfather, and recruits a very simple-minded neighbor, Sancho Panza, as a squire to travel the world with him. Panza believes he will be made governor of an island as a reward for his aid.

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Sancho Panza by Leslie, Charles Robert. 1839

The book is a rather funny collection of the troubles and the adventures the mentally-ill Don Quixote goes through, as he travels the world riding his old horse Rocinante - which he believes is a fine stallion - in the company of his sidekick, Sancho Panza.

In this post, we have selected eleven of the most famous quotes and passages found in Don Quixote concerning books themselves and the act of reading. Enjoy.

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Story of Don Quixote - Don Quixote Takes the Barbers Bason for the Helmet of Mambrin, by Coypel, Charles-Antoine, 1714-34


In short, our gentleman became so caught up in reading that he spent his nights reading from dusk till dawn and his days reading from sunrise to sunset, and so with too little sleep and too much reading his brains dried up, causing him to lose his mind


I'm a loafer by nature, I'm too lazy to go hunting for authors who say what I already know how to say without their help.


There is no book so bad...that it does not have something good in it.


We now enjoy...not only the delight of his own absolutely veracious tale but also all those other stories and narrative digressions which, to some extent, are no less delightful and skillfully told, and every bit as true, as his own history.


Translating from one language to another, unless it is from Greek and Latin, the queens of all languages, is like looking at Flemish tapestries from the wrong side, for although the figures are visible, they are covered by threads that obscure them, and cannot be seen with the smoothness and color of the right side.


The most perceptive character in a play is the fool, because the man who wishes to seem simple cannot possibly be a simpleton.


It is one thing to write as poet and another to write as a historian: the poet can recount or sing about things not as they were, but as they should have been, and the historian must write about them not as they should have been, but as they were, without adding or subtracting anything from the truth.


He who reads much and walks much, goes far and knows much.


What is more dangerous than to become a poet? Which is, as some say, an incurable and infectious disease.


He who sees a play that is regular, and answerable to the rules of poetry, is pleased with the comic part, informed by the serious, surprised at the variety of accidents, improved by the language, warned by the frauds, instructed by examples, incensed against vice, and enamoured with virtue; for a good play must cause all these emotions in the soul of him that sees it, though he were never so insensible and unpolished.


I am in my right mind, now, clear-headed and free of the murky darkness of ignorance, brought upon me by my continual, bitter reading of those abominable books of chivalry.


Have you ever read Don Quixote? Let us know how you like the book.

Jorge Sette is Bookwitty's Regional Ambassador for South America. He represents the company, writing relevant content for the region, recruiting contributors, contacting partners and ... Show More

1 Comments

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Hj Daugherty
I enjoyed the book tremendously. I read the translation by Edith Grossman and believe this contributed to the pleasure I took in reading it because it felt very fresh and alive. It was selected in one of my reading groups and I was the only person to finish it and the only one who read Grossman's translation. I felt the wit came across as strongly as any current humour is capable of doing and will never think of the tilting at windmills scene without recalling the conversation between Sancho and the Don before they arrived to fight the giants. I happened to read that part when I was on the tube one morning and I was crying with laughter. 🙂

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