In Miquel Cervantes’ 1605 novel The Ingenious Low-Born Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, the great romantic Alanso Quixano decides to become a knight errant to revive chivalry. He adopts the name Don Quixote de la Mancha, recruits a farmer named Sancho Manza to be his squire, and embarks on great adventures, living what he envisions to be the life of a knight. The book was initially accepted as a comic novel, but it was in fact meant to be the opposite of what it seems to portray. Is Don Quixote living in an imaginary world, tilting at windmills, or is it the world that is actually upside down?
This 1843 etching by the great master Adolf Schrödter illustrates the scene in which Don Quixote reads Amadis of Gaul. Don Quixote has decided to imitate the penance suffered by his hero, Amadis of Gaul, so he writes verses to his beloved Lady Dulcinea and does a great deal of lamenting and sighing.