The First Part of The Delightful History of the Most Ingenius Knight Don Quixote of the Mancha was written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra in 1605 and first translated by Thomas Shelton in 1612. Cervantes was compelled to complete the Second Part after a spurious Second Part was published by Avellaneda in 1614, an admirer of Lope de Vega, Cervantes' rival. There is no consensus as to who Avellaneda was. The well known Harvard Classics edition (1910), translated by Shelton (1612), is limited to Part One (52 chapters spanning 4 books) and states that Part Two "is generally regarded as inferior." That was in 1910 - generally critics now agree that Part Two is more developed and deeper. Ironically, must editions of the book are either abridged (Parts I and II) or Part One only. Amis (The War Against Cliché) opines "While clearly an impregnable masterpiece, Don Quixote suffers from one fairly serious flaw - that of outright unreadability...Written in the day before novel-reviewing - indeed, in the days before novels - Don Quixote was probably never intended to be read in the modern manner: that is, straight through. Group or family recitations of a chapter a night were, in all likelihood, the most that Cervantes expected anyone to manage. His epic is epic in length only; it has no pace, no drive. An anthology, an agglomeration, it simply accrues. The question 'What happens next?' has no meaning, because there is no next in Don Quixote's world: there is only more."
Sancho's Tale. A simple but amusing tale, a gag, is told by Sancho in a manner which drives DQ crazy (1st, 3, 6). A goatherd was going with his flock where his eyes would never more behold the girl who had been unfaithful to him, Torralva. He came to the bank of the flood-swollen Guadiana River, which he could not cross. He saw a fisherman with a boat that could only take one man and a goat. He agrees to take the flock of 300, but it will take 300 trips. Sancho asks DQ to keep track of the number of trips. If he loses count, the story ends. "'Make account,' quothe Don Quixote, that thou has passed them all over; for otherwise thou will not make an end of passing them in a whole year's space.' 'How many,' said Sancho, 'are already passed over?' 'What a devil know I?' said Don Quixote." This is likely the funniest dialog in the book.
Historically, the Battle of Lepanto was in 1571 and allowed Spain and allies to defeat the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire. Cervantes fought in the battle and mentions his name in the text: the Captive says “Only one Spanish soldier, called such a one as Saavedra,…I would recount unto you things done by this soldier, which might both entertain and astonish you much more than the relation of my life” (1st, 4, 13). Cervantes took 3 gunshot wounds, 2 in the chest and one rendering his left arm useless. Based out of Naples (under Spanish control) for several years, he was captured on the seas by Algerian corsairs and spent 5 years in prison in Algiers before ransomed by his parents.
Don Quixote's mole. Dorothea enquires about the knight-errant, whose name she can't remember (1st, 4, 3). Dorothea pretends her father said "'that he should be high of stature, have a withered face, and that on the right side, a little under the left shoulder, or thereabouts, he should have a tawny spot with certain hairs like to bristles.' Don Quixote, hearing this, said to his squire, 'Hold my horse hear, son Sancho, and help me to take off mine apparel; for I will see whether I be the knight of whom the wise king hath prophesied.'" Is Cervantes making a mountain out of a mole? According to Hodges, in the Muslim tradition, the seal of the prophet is sometimes interpreted as a physical seal in the form of a mole on Muhammad's back.