About the Book

Book Protagonist: Alonso Quixano
Publication Date: 1605
Genre: Classic, Philosophical Fiction


Don Quixote

By Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes originally wrote the book 'Don Quixote' with a mix of old and medieval Spanish, but the book's immediate rise to success ensured that it was further translated into many different languages across Europe and the Americas.

Even though the book is English transcribed, there still exist a few words used in ‘Don Quixote‘ which may pose a problem for the ordinary reader to comprehend. Some of these words will be looked at here.

  1. Amadis de Gaul: As used in ‘Don Quixote‘, amadis de Gaul is a Spanish story of chivalric exploits and traditions. Amadis de Gaul was written by Cervantes’ influence, Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo, more than a hundred years before Cervantes published ‘Don Quixote‘. Gaul can also stand to mean France when translated from Latin.
  2. Arriero: Someone whose main job is to transport or move around goods and services, usually with a mule, donkey, or other similar animals.
  3. Balsam of Fierabras: This expression was utilized by Cervantes through the adventure of ‘Don Quixote‘, and takes its origin from an antiquated Spanish tale titled “Twelve Peers“. In the tale, there is a popular Muslim prince from the Saracens tribe of warriors  with the name Fierabras. He is credited to have found the balsam or balm which seems to cure all illnesses.
  4. Benedictine Monks: These are the monks in the order of St. Benedict of the Catholic congregation, who lived and died two centuries before the Moors invaded Spanish peninsula.
  5. Biscainer: In ‘Don Quixote‘, this term is used to describe people who hail from around the gulf between northern Spain and western France, or as it is simply called; Bay of Biscay.
  6. Caballeros: Used to refer to the knights or the medieval period, who are of noble blood and trained with military skills for the purpose of rendering policing services for the Lord.
  7. Chivalry: This is used to describe the customary traditions and way of live of a typical knight of the gothic era.
  8. Escudero: A squire or servant who owes loyalty to his master and follows him where ever he goes.
  9. Espada: A sword or blade-like tool used by knights and guards to engage in battles or fights.
  10. Hidalgo: A gentleman of Spanish extraction thought to be of noble blood but generally without an official title.
  11. Holy Brotherhood: The Holly brotherhood is an alliance formed under the rulership of two of the most powerful Christian kingdoms of the time and led by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel. The monarchs commission the holy brotherhood that later becomes a militarized form of guard which solidifies trust and understanding between the local town people with the monarchy, working under a policing capacity.
  12. Infierno: This denotes hell or underworld where the souls of the wicked dead go to for eternal torment.
  13. Invicto: A person or worrior who is considered as being undefeated in battle.
  14. Knight-errant: This term is used to mean any journey or adventures embarked by a knight for the purpose of the proving his knightly skills and achieving a set goal.
  15. Leon: This is a popular region in old Spain. The event of the reconquest sees the christian kingdom take back the lands of Leon from the Moors of north Africa. The subsequent unification of Leon with Castila by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel marks the formation of Spain as we know it today.
  16. Logro: Used to refer to the percieved  result of a victory or conquest. It is usually likened to the achievement for a particular goal reached.
  17. Mambrino’s Helmet: Within the context of ‘Don Quixote‘, mambrino’s helmet represents a tool that offers protection for the whole body of the person wearing it, but is typically worn around the head region. The history of the phrase is carried from two great tales of chivalry written by Boiardo and Ariosto respectively.
  18. Moors: A group of Muslims who, around the year 700s, invaded from north Africa and conquered much of the Spanish peninsula. They controlled the region for more than seven hundred years, but were driven out in late 1400s by the mission of the reconquest as led by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel.
  19. Rezar: Prayer, supplication, or penance made by someone who is considered as a sinful person.
  20. Vencer: To defeat or conquer over someone or group in a battle or a challenge.
  21. Winnowing: This term is used to refer to any process that seeks to pick out the chaffs from the good contents and keeping them apart. This is usually done by fanning with the help of the air.
  22. Yelmo In ‘Don Quixote‘, yelmo is a term used to refer to helmets od any kind worn by warriors during a battle.


What is the meaning of ‘Don Quixote‘?

The phrase ‘Don Quixote,’ as used in dated expression, represents someone having a strong will and desire to make a change, usually from wrong to right, and goes about achieving it in a rather strange or impractical manner.

What is the literal meaning of Cervantes?

The name Cervantes is a Spanish given name that loosely translates to mean “servant” in a much simple sense, but also stands for “ladies’ man” in a broader sense.

What language is ‘Don Quixote‘ originally written?

Cervantes initially wrote the book in old Spanish, Korean, and early Modern Spanish.

Is ‘Don Quixote‘ the most sold-out book?

Despite an early success that saw it selling over 500 million copies worldwide, ‘Don Quixote‘ is not the most sold-out book in the world, the Holy Bible is.

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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