1005 Cervantes' greatest work, Don Quixote, is a unique book of multiple dimensions. From the moment of its appearance it has amused readers or caused them to think, and its influence has extended in literature not only to works of secondary value but also to those which have universal importance. Don Quixote is a country gentleman, an enthusiastic visionary crazed by his reading of romances of chivalry, who rides forth to defend the oppressed and to right wrongs; so vividly was he presented by Cervantes that many languages have borrowed the name of the hero as the common term to designate a person inspired by lofty and impractical ideals. The theme of the book, in brief, concerns Hidalgo Alonso Quijano, who, because of his reading in books about chivalry, comes to believe that everything they say is true and decides to become a knight-errant himself. He assumes the name of Don Quixote de la Mancha and, accompanied by a peasant, Sancho Panza, who serves him as a squire, sets forth in search of adventures. Don Quixote interprets all that he encounters in accordance with his readings and thus imagines himself to be living in a world quite different from the one familiar to the ordinary men he meets. Windmills are thus transformed into giants, and this illusion, together with many others, is the basis for the beatings and misadventures suffered by the intrepid hero. After the knight's second sally in search of adventure, friends and neighbors in his village decide to force him to forget his wild fancy and to reintegrate himself into his former life.
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