Don Quixote by Cervantes: The Library of Don Quixote
The Library of Don Quixote de La Mancha
Don Quixote de la Mancha, also known as Alonso Quixano, builds his identity based on his collection of books. He is a man who has a little to his name but an old, skinny horse, his great-grandfather’s old rusty armor, he barely has enough money to feed himself, and he sells acres upon acres of good, farmable land in order to buy books on chivalry. He spends “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.”
It’s through this reading, brain drying, and the losing of his mind that Alonso is left with essentially a clean slate. With this clean slate, every book that he reads leaves a huge impression on him, and he swallows every story of knights defeating giants and righting wrongs and defending the image of their lady. At that moment, his identity is everything to him. Fast forward to chapter 6, and Alonso’s friend the barber, the priest, his niece and his housekeeper come in and begin to burn his library. The chapter opens with “[r]egarding the beguiling and careful examination carried out by the priest and the barber of the library of our ingenious gentleman who was still asleep.” They came in without his consent, and burned a large majority of his books and the ones they didn’t, they took from the house and either the priest or the barber took
it with him.
What is extremely entertaining is Cervantes’s self advertising within his own book. When the priest gets to the copy of La Galatea he claims that it must be saved because “[t]his Cervantes has been a good friend of mine for many years, and I know that he is better versed in misfortunes than in versus. His book has a certain creativity; it proposes something and
concludes nothing. We have to wait for the second part he has promised; perhaps with that
addition it will achieve the mercy denied to it now; in the meantime, keep it locked away in your house, my friend.”
In addition, the inclusion of one of Miguel de Cervantes’s books within Don Quixote’s shows a connection between our main protagonist and the author himself. Miguel de Cervantes is inputting some of his own work, one which tells stories of tragedy and loss, within the many other pieces that Don Quixote that used to build himself. The concerning thing about chapter 6 is that Don Quixote’s close friends and family have burned the very thing that he has built his identity on without his consent. How he responds, and how he moves forward without the material books, will be an extremely interesting. If we are going off of the assumption that Miguel de Cervantes is connected to Don Quixote, I think that Cervantes may have experienced some sort of loss of identity in his life. Moving back to Don Quixote, I feel that he will move on rather quickly, confidant since he is now a knight and he can do anything he sets his mind to. Once he picks up a squire, he will be a true knight errant in his mind.