For the word quixotic, the English language is indebted to Don Quixote, the eponymous hero of the satire written by Miguel de Cervantes and published in Madrid in two parts, in 1605 and 1615.
Don Quixote was a visionary who, after reading books on knight errantry, believed he had to redress the wrongs of the world. This man from La Mancha was a humble, amiable character, but his wits were deranged. His baptismal name was Alonso Quijano, but in a mock ceremony of knighthood he assumed the name Don Quixote.
Quixote sallied forth on his nag, a rack of bones named Rocinante, accompanied by his squire, Sancho Panza, a short, pot-bellied rustic, untutored but shrewd. Quixote was involved in many adventures — more accurately misadventures — but his most famous was his tilting at windmills that he believed were giants. Eventually Quixote, worn out and disillusioned, returned to his home in La Mancha.
The adjective quixotic describes a person who is an impractical idealist with lofty visions but little common sense.
The poignant tale of the romantic cavalier Don Quixote de La Mancha and Richard Strauss’s powerful tone poem Don Quixote composed in 1897 is tragicomedy; it is not a farce.
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