52 of the Most Interesting Don Quixote Quotes

Don Quixote, written by Miguel de Cervantes in two parts (1605 and 1615), is primarily conceived as a biting parody of the courtly traditions so popular in literature at the time. It is widely thought to be the first modern novel, and its popularity among western readers has not diminished with time. It doesn’t just make us laugh at ourselves, however. Don Quixote contains a deeper philosophical inquiry into the natures of reality and sanity.

Don Quixote Quotes

Here are 52 of the most interesting Don Quixote quotes.

  1. “The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.”
  2. “Bear in mind, Sancho, that one man is no more than another, unless he does more than another.”
  3. “The fool knows more in his own house than the wise man in someone else’s.”
  4. “…if the verses are for a literary competition, your grace should try to win second place; first is always won through favor or because of the high estate of the person, second is won because of pure justice, and by this calculation third becomes second, and the first becomes third…”
  5. “Those who have been told the truth should not be taken for those who have been scorned.”
  6. “When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”
  7. “A blessing on those happy ages that did not know the dreadful fury of these devilish instruments of artillery, whose inventor is, I feel sure, being rewarded in hell for his diabolical creation, by which he made it possible for an infamous and cowardly hand to take away the life of a brave knight as, in the heat of the courage and resolution that fires and animates the gallant breast, a stray bullet appears, nobody knows how or from where – fired perhaps by some fellow who took fright at the flash of the fiendish contraption, and fled – and in an instant put an end to the life and loves of one who deserved to live for many a long age.”
  8. “By God and upon my conscience”, said the devil, “I never observed it, for my mind is occupied with so many different things that I was forgetting the main thing I came about.” “This demon must be an honest fellow and a good Christian,” said Sancho; “for if he wasn’t he wouldn’t swear by God and his conscience; I feel sure now there must be good souls even in hell itself.”
  9. “Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
  10. “To tell you the truth…you’ve told one of the most novel tales … anyone in the world has ever thought of, and the way you told it, and then ended it, is something never to be seen, and never ever seen, in the course of a lifetime, though I expected nothing less from your remarkable powers of reasoning.”
  11. “And so, to sum it all up, I perceive everything I say as absolutely true, and deficient in nothing whatever, and paint it all in my mind exactly as I want it to be.”
  12. For the love of God, sir knight errant, if you ever meet me again, please, even if you see me being cut into little pieces, don’t rush to my aid or try to help me, but just let me be miserable, because no matter what they’re doing to me it couldn’t be worse than what will happen if your grace helps, so may God curse you and every knight errant who’s ever been born in the world.”
  13. “[Y]ou think you’re brave and courageous, when you’re really old; you think you’re strong, when you’re really feeble; you think you can go righting wrongs when age has bent you in half — and, above all, that you’re a knight, when you’re not, because even though gentlemen can become knights, poor ones can’t!”
  14. “‘That’s exactly it,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘that’s just how beautifully I’ve worked it all out — because for a knight errant to go crazy for good reason, how much is that worth? My idea is to become a lunatic for no good reason at all’.”
  15. “I think and believe that I’m enchanted, and this satisfies my conscience, for it would weigh heavily upon me, if I believed I wasn’t enchanted and had let myself be locked up in this crate like a lazy coward.”
  16. “I don’t see how you could be righting wrongs…because you’ve turned me from right to wrong, leaving me with a broken leg.”
  17. “I’m a loafer by nature, I’m too lazy to go hunting for authors who say what I already know how to say without their help.”
  18. ‘That’s exactly it,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘that’s just how beautifully I’ve worked it all out — because for a knight errant to go crazy for good reason, how much is that worth? My idea is to become a lunatic for no good reason at all.'”
  19. “There’s a remedy for everything except death.”
  20. “[F]or land that’s dry and unfruitful will give you good crops, if you put on enough manure…I mean, your grace’s words have been like manure spread on the barren ground of my dry and uncultivated mind.”
  21. “For neither good nor evil can last for ever; and so it follows that as evil has lasted a long time, good must now be close at hand.”
  22. “Wit and humor do not reside in slow minds.”
  23. “It’s up to brave hearts, sir, to be patient when things are going badly, as well as being happy when they’re going well … For I’ve heard that what they call fortune is a flighty woman who drinks too much, and, what’s more, she’s blind, so she can’t see what she’s doing, and she doesn’t know who she’s knocking over or who she’s raising up.”
  24. “The fault lies not with the mob, who demands nonsense, but with those who do not know how to produce anything else.”
  25. “What is more dangerous than to become a poet? which is, as some say, an incurable and infectious disease.”
  26. “… truth, whose mother is history, who is the rival of time, depository of deeds, witness of the past, example and lesson to the present, and warning to the future.”
  27. “Tell me, you brand-new buffoon and thoroughly ancient pest.”
  28. “Laughter distances us from that which is ugly and therefore potentially distressing, and indeed enables us to obtain paradoxical pleasure and therapeutic benefit from it.”
  29. “One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world will be better for this.”
  30. “I’ve always heard the old folks say that if you don’t know how to enjoy good luck when it comes, you shouldn’t complain if it passes you by.”
  31. “Everything I have done, am doing, and shall do follows the dictates of reason and the laws of chivalry.”
  32. …that what applies here is the old saying about the pot calling the kettle black.”
  33. “All human efforts to communicate—even in the same language—are equally utopian, equally luminous with value, and equally worth the doing.”
  34. “The foolish remarks of the rich man pass for wisdom in the world.”
  35. “…and bless the man who invented sleep, a cloak to cover over all human thought, food that drives away hunger, water that banishes thirst, fire that heats up cold, chill that moderates passion and, finally universal currency with which all things can be bought, weight and balance that brings the shepherd and the king, the fool and the wise, to the same level.”
  36. “…in the worst of circumstances, the hypocrite who pretends to be good does less harm than the public sinner.”
  37. “What I can tell your grace is that it deals with truths, and they are truths so appealing and elegant that no lies can equal them.”
  38. “Having cleaned his armor and made a full helmet out of a simple headpiece, and having given a name to his horse and decided on one for himself, he realized that the only thing left for him to do was to find a lady to love; for the knight errant without a lady-love was a tree without leaves or fruit, a body without a soul.”
  39. “Love is invisible, and comes in and goes out as he likes, without anyone calling him to account for what he does.”
  40. “Do we know exactly who we are? The more urgently we quest for our authentic selves, the more they tend to recede. The Knight and Sancho, as the great work closes, know exactly who they are, not so much by their adventures as through their marvelous conversations, be they quarrels or exchanges of insights.”
  41. “Friend to friend no more draws near, and the jester’s cane has become a spear.”
  42. “I swear to hold my tongue about it till the end of your worship’s days, and God grant I may be able to let it out tomorrow.”
  43. “…let his sin be his punishment, let him eat it with his bread, and let that be an end to it.”
  44. “With these meager scraps of Latin and the like, you may perhaps be taken for a scholar, which is honorable and profitable these days.”
  45. “Facts, my dear Sancho, are the enemy of truth.”
  46. “Open thine arms and receive, too, thy son Don Quixote, who, if he comes vanquished by the arm of another, comes victor over himself, which, as he himself has told me, is the greatest victory anyone can desire.”
  47. “…also saw that the number of simpleminded men is greater than that of the prudent, and though it is better to be praised by a few wise men and mocked by many fools.”
  48. “We know already ample experience that it does not require much cleverness or much learning to be a governor, for there are a hundred round about us that scarcely know how to read.”
  49. “It is by rugged paths like these they go that scale the heights of immortality, unreached by those that falter here below.”
  50. “In short, to sum up all in a few words, or in a single one, I may tell you I am Don Quixote of La Mancha, otherwise called ‘The Knight of the Rueful Countenance;’ for though self-praise is degrading, I must perforce sound my own sometimes, that is to say, when there is no one at hand to do it for me.”
  51. “That night the housekeeper burned all the books there were in the stable yard and in all the house; and there must have been some that went up in smoke which should have been preserved in everlasting archives, if the one who did the scrutinizing had not been so indolent. Thus we see the truth of the old saying, to the effect that the innocent must sometimes pay for the sins of the guilty.”
  52. “It seems to me a hard case to make slaves of those whom God and nature have made free.”
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Ah, the Pleasure of Reading Don Quixote!

Parody and philosophy have rarely mixed so freely or beautifully as in the classic masterpiece “Don Quixote.” We can all use a good laugh at ourselves and our pretentions. A little thought rarely has hurt any of us, either. And if you find yourself “chasing at windmills” like Don Quixote, it might be a good time to read the book again!

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