Thursday, October 24, 2013

Capítulo III.- the "droll way" don Quijote employed to get himself knighted

Capítulo III. Donde se cuenta la graciosa manera que tuvo don Quijote en armarse caballero

Translation of this chapter heading: 

Chapter Three - Wherein is recounted the "wacky way" don Quijote employed to get himself knighted.

Ormsby translates "la graciosa manera" as "droll way."

That's pretty good. Both the ridiculous events and what we infer from Cervantes' point of view supports the idea that Cervantes wants the reader to see odd humor in this, eh, ordination. But droll is not quite up to date; wacky is.

Here is how Cervantes tells the story of the 'dubbing' of Quijote. Taking the Duke University on line version with the Ormsby translation with emphasis added.

There is a demented logic to DQ's insanity: he must get himself knighted or his mission collapses. Our knight deludes  himself, if no one else. 
. . .
El ventero . . . por tener qué reír aquella noche, determinó de seguirle el humor; y así le dijo que andaba muy acertado en lo que deseaba y pedía, y que tal prosupuesto era propio y natural de los caballeros tan principales como él parecía y como su gallarda presencia mostraba; y que él asimismo, en los años de su mocedad, se había dado a aquel honroso ejercicio, andando por diversas partes del mundo, buscando sus aventuras . . .The landlord . . . to make sport for the night he determined to fall in with his humour. So he told him he was quite right in pursuing the object he had in view, and that such a motive was natural and becoming in cavaliers as distinguished as he seemed and his gallant bearing showed him to be; and that he himself in his younger days had followed the same honourable calling, roaming in quest of adventures in various parts of the world . . 
 . . . en los años de su mocedad, se había dado a aquel honroso ejercicio, andando por diversas partes del mundo, buscando sus aventuras . . . donde había ejercitado la ligereza de sus pies y sutileza de sus manos, haciendo muchos tuertos , recuestando muchas viudas, deshaciendo algunas doncellas y engañando algunos pupilos, y, finalmente dándose a conocer por cuantas audiencias y tribunales hay casi en toda España. . .  in his younger days had followed the same honourable calling, roaming in quest of adventures in various parts of the world . . . where he had proved the nimbleness of his feet and the lightness of his fingers, doing many wrongs, cheating many widows, ruining maids and swindling minors, and, in short, bringing himself under the notice of almost every tribunal and court of justice in Spain

Again, the iconic Cervantes invokes description when he might better evoke action or even dialogue. 

Here, he describes what the landlord thinks. 

Description can become boring and, even in a 1,000 page work, looks like a shortcut. Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra, show us! Don't tell us!

But the point of this exchange is informational - it is a known criminal who is dubbing our Knight.

The ceremonial aspect of human pretension is here displayed. 

It's not just the Mafia of popular imagination that is composed of "made" wiseguys; even a crazy, medieval low-level hidalgo must be "made" before he can come into his powers. 

DQ's insane sense of mission require authorization but the ceremony does not require to be conducted by a legitimate authority. 

DQ must be ordained! The point of the ceremony is the ceremony. Never mind the complete absence of quality of the one who confers the necessary status. 

Has Cervantes buried in the narrative, a notion of self-delusion with a larger application? 

  • Is a claim to an exalted mission subject to the error of pretension
  • Does the laying on of hands, even when traced back through the centuries, amount to a pantomime? 
  • If not, why not?

The landlord who dubs QD is the archetypal denizen of the criminal underworld. He is precisely the sort of whom this particular knight-errant wannabe, intends to rid the earth. 

A criminal is the very one who confers the essential favor, in a ceremony, invented in the moment.

The criminal offers the requested sanction to the delusional, self-chosen do-gooder.

Now, ordained in his grand mission, the ordinand is off! He shall right all wrongs in the wide world.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chap 2 (cont) 'Are you Hungry?'

Chap 2 (cont) 

This post relates DQ's first adventure - an encounter with two young women "of the district" Dos mujeres mozas "del partido"


Quijote is an ordinary guy. Crazy? Sure! But one of the boys.

When he rides up to the roadhouse, it’s a castle to him because DQ is delusional. Relentlessly delusional.

But crazy or not, DQ is still a man, among men. Delusional, muttering to himself, armed, but still . . . a man.

So, when DQ encounters two well-worn young women, who survive by travelling the countryside, selling themselves to muleteers and other rough sorts, DQ is not a dangerous crazy whom they can confront, so as to protect themselves. No. He is a dangerous crazy they must run away from. It’s run or maybe die . . . or, as this story flows, run and disobey, or stay where you are and, who knows what will happen now?

If frightened by a strange man, women had better get out of the way. If that’s possible. 

For a couple of whores in a roadhouse with a number of men, it’s not as though the place is much of a refuge to begin with.

When encountering DQ on the open road, what would another man do?  We shall see as the story unfolds. 

But in Cervantes' story, DQ’s first encounter on his first adventure is with women, whose first thought is to get away from him.

Seeing the look of panic on their faces, DQ asks the women to set aside their fears. He tells them, they have nothing to worry about. This armed, crazy-talking guy says he presents no danger, no risk. ‘Hey, I won’t hurt you.’

When an armed, delusional man announces, 'there is nothing to worry about; don’t run from me' is this a reasonable request or a further unfolding of the delusion?

Doubtless, for disobeying a man, women could be hurt just as quickly in 16th century Spain as they can be in the 21st century. When a guy tells a woman ‘Hey, I won’t hurt you’ the woman could get hurt by disobeying the order to stay right there.

It’s biology. Women tend to be physically weaker. 

It’s cultural. Men are accustomed to having their ‘requests’ obeyed by the womenfolk.

So, in this adventure, the two women stay put - right where they have been put by all of the men.

Staying put, their powers of observation take hold. Watching men is a survival skill in women, no? Without having to discuss their plans with each other - (1) let’s stay put (2) let’s keep an eye on this guy - they act in concert.

Levity breaks out. This also may be a survival tactic, intended to lighten the mood; but if a woman’s laughter is directed at a man, you are asking for trouble, which is exactly what happens.

“. . . looking him up and down . . . they could not restrain their laughter . . . which made don Quixote angry . . . ”

Sure enough, the man who said, 'nothing's gonna happen' gets pissed off.

In this novelist’s riff on reality, a second, bigger man, the landlord of the roadhouse, enters the scene and distracts the delusional, armed man, who invokes a folk titty to justify his insanity. This is a tune, which emphasizes the role to be played by "princesses" in his dementia.

The timely intervention of the landlord enables the women to “make their peace” with the crazy dude who has told they had nothing to fear, just before he got angry with them.

The women, trapped and at the mercy of these men - of any men in this story - move into their most acceptable, social role: ‘do you want something to eat?’

They wind up feeding DQ, like a baby.

. . . Estaban acaso a la puerta dos mujeres mozas, destas que llaman "del partido" , las cuales iban a Sevilla con unos arrieros
At the door were standing two young women, 'girls of the district' as they call them, on their way to Seville with some muleteers
. . . vio a las dos destraídas mozas que allí estaban, que a él le parecieron dos hermosas doncellas o dos graciosas damas, que delante de la puerta del castillo se estaban solazando.
. . . he saw two inattentive girls, right there, who seemed to him to be two fair maidens or lovely ladies, taking it easy right at the castle gate.
. . . llegó a la venta y a las damas, las cuales, como vieron venir un hombre de aquella suerte armado, y con lanza y adarga, llenas de miedo se iban a entrar en la venta; pero don Quijote, coligiendo por su huida su miedo, descubriendo su seco y polvoroso rostro, con gentil talante y voz reposada les dijo.
. . . he rode up to the inn and to the ladies, who, seeing a man of this condition approaching in armour and with lance and buckler, got very scared, and turned to go into the inn; but don Quixote, seeing their fear by their flight, disclosing his dry, dusty visage, spoke to them with a gentle bearing and a calming voice.
- Non fuyan las vuestras mercedes , ni teman desaguisado alguno , ca a la orden de caballería que profeso non toca ni atañe facerle a ninguno, cuanto más a tan altas doncellas como vuestras presencias demuestran.
"Your ladyships need not run away or fear any rudeness, for that sort of thing has nothing to do with the order of knighthood which I profess, nor to act like that to anyone, much less to high maidens as your appearance shows you to be."
Mirábanle las mozas, y andaban con los ojos buscándole el rostro, que la mala visera le encubría; mas, como se oyeron llamar doncellas, cosa tan fuera de su profesión, no pudieron tener la risa, y fue de manera, que don Quijote vino a correrse y a decirles.
The young women, looking at him and then looking him up and down, to make out the features which the crumby visor obscured; plus, hearing themselves called maidens, something far out of their line of work, they could not restrain their laughter, which made don Quixote get angry, and say,
- Bien parece la mesura en las fermosas, y es mucha sandez, además, la risa que de leve causa procede, pero non vos lo digo porque os acuitedes ni mostredes mal talante, que el mío non es de al que de serviros.
"Restraint becomes the fair, and besides, laughter for no reason is nonsense; now I say this not to pain or anger you, for my desire is nothing else than to serve you."
El lenguaje, no entendido de las señoras, y el mal talle de nuestro caballero, acrecentaban en ellas la risa, y en él el enojo.
The jargon, incomprehensible to the young women, plus the sorry aspect of our gentleman, prompted laughter from them, and annoyance in him.
. . . al cual estaban desarmando las doncellas, (que ya se habían reconciliado con él), las cuales, aunque la habían quitado el peto y el espaldar, jamás supieron ni pudieron desencajarle la gola, ni quitarle la contrahecha celada , que traía atada con unas cintas verdes y era menester cortarlas, por no poderse quitar los ñudos; mas él no lo quiso consentir en ninguna manera; y así, se quedó toda aquella noche con la celada puesta, que era la más graciosa y estraña figura que se pudiera pensar; y al desarmarle, como él se imaginaba que aquellas traídas y llevadas que le desarmaban eran algunas principales señoras y damas de aquel castillo, les dijo con mucho donaire.
. . . the damsels (by now, had made their peace with him) were relieving him of his armour. They had taken off his breastplate and backpiece, but they neither knew nor saw how to open his gorget or remove his make-shift helmet, for he had fastened it with green ribbons, which, as there was no untying the knots, would need to be cut. This, however, he would by no means permit, so he remained all the evening with his helmet on, the silliest and oddest figure imaginable; while he was being relieved of his equipment, he imagined that the women who were handling and disarming him were the principal women and mistresses of that castle, so he spoke to them neatly:
Nunca fuera caballero
de damas tan bien servido.
como fuera don Quijote
cuando de su aldea vino.
donde curaban del
princesas del su rocin.

Oh, never, surely, was there knight
So served by mistress' hand.
As was he, don Quijote, right
from his town he'd land
With maidens on him waiting,
Princesses of his hack.
- o Rocinante, que éste es el nombre señoras mías, de mi caballo, y don Quijote de la Mancha el mío; que puesto que no quisiera descubrirme fasta que las fazañas fechas en vuestro servicio y pro me descubrieran, la fuerza de acomodar al propósito presente este romance viejo de Lanzarote, ha sido causa que sepáis mi nombre antes de toda sazón; pero tiempo vendrá en que las vuestras señorías me manden y yo obedezca, y el valor de mi brazo descubra el deseo que tengo de serviros
-or former-hack, for that, ladies mine, is my horse's name, and don Quixote of La Mancha is mine; for though I had no intention of revealing myself until my deeds done in your service and honour had made me known, the necessity of adapting that old folksong of Lancelot to the present moment has revealed my name out of season. A time, however, will come for your ladyships to command and me to obey, and then the might of my arm will show my desire to serve you."
Las mozas, que no estaban hechas a oír semejantes retóricas, no respondían palabra; sólo le preguntaron si quería comer alguna cosa.
The girls, who were not used to hearing this kind of patter, made no reply; but they did ask him if he wanted anything to eat.
Pusiéronle la mesa a la puerta de la venta, por el fresco, y trújole el huésped una porción del mal remojado y peor cocido bacalao, y un pan tan negro y mugriento como sus armas; pero era materia de grande risa verle comer , porque, como tenía puesta la celada y alzada la visera, no podía poner nada en la boca con sus manos si otro no se lo daba y ponía, y así una de aquellas señoras servía deste menester. Mas al darle de beber, no fue posible, ni lo fuera, si el ventero no horadara una caña, y puesto el un cabo en la boca, por el otro le iba echando el vino: y todo esto lo recebía en paciencia, a trueco de no romper las cintas de la celada.
For fresh air, they laid a table for him at the door of the inn, and the host brought him a portion of poorly-soaked and even more poorly cooked cod, and a piece of bread as black and grimy as his own armour; still, his eating was a source of hilarity, since he kept his helmet on with the visor up, and could not put anything in his mouth with his own hands with his own hands put anything into his mouth so someone else pick up the food and put it in did it; this service was provided him by one of the women. Worse. To drink anything was impossible, or would have been, had not the landlord bored out a reed; putting one end in his mouth and through the other end, poured the wine into him; all this he bore with patience, rather than sever the ribbons of his helmet.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chap Two - Arrival at the Roadhouse

Chapter Two (cont) - Arrival at the Roadhouse

. . . luego que vio la venta se le representó que era un castillo con sus cuatro torres y chapiteles de luciente plata , sin faltarle su puente levadizo y honda cava, con todos aquellos adherentes que semejantes castillos se pintan. [. . .] a poco trecho della detuvo las riendas a Rocinante esperando que algún enano se pusiese entre las almenas a dar señal con alguna trompeta de que llegaba caballero al castillo . . .
. . . En esto sucedió acaso que un porquero, que andaba recogiendo de unos rastrojos una manada de puercos (que, sin perdón, así se llaman) , tocó un cuerno, a cuya señal ellos se recogen, y al instante se le representó a don Quijote lo que deseaba, que era que algún enano hacía señal de su venida, y así con extraño contento llegó a la venta . . .
. . . el ventero, hombre que por ser muy gordo era muy pacífico, . . . Si vuestra merced, señor caballero, busca posada, amén del lecho (porque en esta venta no hay ninguno), todo lo demás se hallará en ella en mucha abundancia.
. . . as soon as he saw the roadhouse, it represented itself to him as a castle with four turrets and silvery shining spires, and not lacking a drawbridge and moat and all other such items that would show up in the picture of a castle. [. . .] a little ways away, he slacked the reins of Rocinante, expecting some dwarf might appear on the battlements and signal with a trumpet that a gentlemen had arrived at the castle . . .
. . . it happened at that moment, by chance a swineherd, moving through the underbrush, collecting a herd of pigs (no apology, since that is what they are called) blew a horn, at which signal they came running, at that instant all this was presented in don Quijote, as that very dwarf signaling his arrival; and so with a peculiar contentment, he arrived at the roadhouse . . . 
. . . the landlord, being a very fat man, was also a placid one . . . 'If your lordship, noble sir, is seeking shelter but not lodging, since we have none left, everything else will be found here in great abundance.'


Cervantes is expanding on the delusional perceptions of his hero, typically, passing these off as not trivial but certainly humorous. The delusion requires that the figures DQ encounters are perceived by him as representations from his fictional world. 

I continue to be bothered by Cervantes' habit of telling and not showing his readers what his hero (and others) are thinking. Most of the fiction that has influenced me is of a different order, with a heavier emphasis on dialogue, even interior dialogue. Here is a famous passage from Proust, which, so far, has no parallel in DQ:

"I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory — this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?"
We have skipped an important matter in this chapter, namely, DQ's beginning interactions with two women - prostitutes - whom he encounters on his arrival at the roadhouse. All this will be picked up in a later post, as these interactions emerge.

"But not lodging" - Cervantes wrote - amén del lecho - which I take as slang for - menos del lecho - literally: except the bed.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chapter Two: Ridicule or Empathy . . . or somthing else?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez has said of DQ - it contains everything. 

I would add, it contains even the omissions.

By this, I mean, the grand failings of DQ, later writers either repeated or tried to overcome. 

Chapter two offers the evidence for Cervantes omitting to show, telling instead. This is an epic failing - repeated or corrected in subsequent novelists. 

But Cervantes got there first.
. . . le asaltó un pensamiento terrible, y tal, que por poco le hiciera dejar la comenzada empresa; y fue que le vino a la memoria que no era armado caballero, y que, conforme a ley de caballería, ni podía ni debía tomar armas con ningún caballero
Being translated:
. . . he was struck by a horrible thought, which almost made him abandon this business at its beginning; it entered his mind that he had not been knighted and, according to the law of the horse-cult he could not - nor should he - take up arms against another knight.

I probably won't again translate caballería as 'horse-cult' - but the idea, obvious enough - caballo / caballeria - is that the fanciful knighthood enterprise is predicated on ownership of a quality horse and preoccupation with horsemanship and its attendant mystique; all this being limited to wealthy young men, with time on their hands, since serfs and underpaid, overworked laborers did all the work their fathers required.

But note that Cervantes simply tells us what DQ has going on his his head. Other writers would expand this conceit of description into a genre all its own: stream of consciousness.

But even in no-show-all-tell, Cervantes has his mojo going. It is a crazy idea that almost derails DQ's first crazy adventure. Are we surprised that a third insane notion impels DQ forward?

. . . Estos pensamientos le hicieron titubear en su propósito; mas, pudiendo más su locura que otra razón alguna, propuso de hacerse armar caballero del primero que topase . . . 
These thoughts made him hesitant about his project, but since his insanity trumped any rational ideas, he decided to have himself dubbed a knight by the first one he bumped into.
Is this trinity of insane notions part of Cervantes' grand satire? Is Cervantes suggesting we see DQ as a messianic figure, inhabiting an alternative universe created by his insanity?

You tell me. 

Thank goodness, the story picks up. 

DQ does go forth on Rocinante, talking to himself, and wandering all day, without food or rest.
"¿Quién duda, sino que en los venideros tiempos, cuando salga a luz la verdadera historia de mis famosos hechos . . . 
¡Dichosa edad y siglo dichoso aquel adonde saldrán a luz las famosas hazañas mías, dignas de entallarse en bronces, esculpirse en mármoles y pintarse en tablas, para memoria en lo futuro! . . .
Con éstos iba ensartando otros disparates . . . y con esto caminaba tan despacio, y el sol entraba tan apriesa y con ardor que fuera bastante a derretirle los sesos si algunos tuviera. . . .
. . . él anduvo todo aquel día, y al anochecer, su rocín y él se hallaron cansados y muertos de hambre ; y que, mirando a todas partes por ver si descubriría algún castillo o alguna majada de pastores donde recogerse, y adonde pudiese remediar su mucha necesidad, vio no lejos del camino por donde iba una venta, que fue como si viera una estrella que, no a los portales, sino a los alcázares de redención le encaminaba . Diose priesa a caminar, y llegó a ella a tiempo que anochecía.

"Who can doubt that in fortunate future epochs, when the accurate narrative of my famous deeds is revealed . . . 
Blest age! Fortunate century! When my famous deeds will be revealed! Worthy of brass inscription! Carved in marble! Painted on tablets! Commemorated for ever!" . . . 
. . . he continued on, stringing together other absurdities . . . which caused such slow progress; but the sun rose so rapidly and so hot it would have melted his brains, if he had any . . .
. . . he rode all that day until evening when both he and his horse discovered themselves exhausted and starved. Looking around, to see if he could spot a castle or even a shepherds' shack where he might collect himself and remedy his needs, just off the road he was on, he spotted a roadhouse. It was as if he were following a star, not merely to a welcoming door but to the haven of redemption, which he had been seeking. Quickening his pace, he reached her [ the female redención - I think] just at nightfall.
Cervantes takes pains to describe the suffering of his delusional knight. Do we feel his pain? Is it enough to prompt sympathy? Empathy? 

I don't think Cervantes is interested in inspiring a reader merely to feel ridicule. You don't need to invent the modern novel form to do only that. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

DQ - an elderly, insane Messiah

Capítulo II.
Hechas, pues, estas prevenciones , no quiso aguardar más tiempo a poner en efecto su pensamiento, apretándole a ello la falta que él pensaba que hacía en el mundo su tardanza , según eran los agravios que pensaba deshacer, tuertos que enderezar , sinrazones que enmendar, y abusos que mejorar , y deudas que satisfacer. Y así, sin dar parte a una de su intención, y sin que nadie le viese, una mañana, antes del día (que era uno de los calurosos del mes de julio) se armó de todas sus armas, subió sobre Rocinante, puesta su mal compuesta celada, embrazó su adarga, tomó su lanza, y por la puerta falsa de un corral salió al campo, con grandísimo contento y alborozo de ver con cuánta facilidad había dado principio a su buen deseo. Mas apenas se vio en el campo, cuando le asaltó un pensamiento terrible, y tal, que por poco le hiciera dejar la comenzada empresa; y fue que le vino a la memoria que no era armado caballero, y que, conforme a ley de caballería, ni podía ni debía tomar armas con ningún caballero; y puesto que lo fuera, había de llevar armas blancas como novel caballero, sin empresa en el escudo, hasta que por su esfuerzo la ganase. Estos pensamientos le hicieron titubear en su propósito; mas, pudiendo más su locura que otra razón alguna, propuso de hacerse armar caballero del primero que topase, a imitación de otros muchos que así lo hicieron , según él había leído en los libros que tal le tenían. En lo de las armas blancas pensaba limpiarlas de manera , en teniendo lugar, que lo fuesen más que un armiño; y con esto se quietó y prosiguió su camino, sin llevar otro que aquel que su caballo quería , creyendo que en aquello consistía la fuerza de las aventuras.
These preliminaries settled, he did not care to put off any longer the execution of his design, urged on to it by the thought of all the world was losing by his delay, seeing what wrongs he intended to right, grievances to redress, injustices to repair, abuses to remove, and duties to discharge. So, without giving notice of his intention to anyone, and without anybody seeing him, one morning before the dawning of the day (which was one of the hottest of the month of July) he donned his suit of armour, mounted Rocinante with his patched-up helmet on, braced his buckler, took his lance, and by the back door of the yard sallied forth upon the plain in the highest contentment and satisfaction at seeing with what ease he had made a beginning with his grand purpose. But scarcely did he find himself upon the open plain, when a terrible thought struck him, one all but enough to make him abandon the enterprise at the very outset. It occurred to him that he had not been dubbed a knight, and that according to the law of chivalry he neither could nor ought to bear arms against any knight; and that even if he had been, still he ought, as a novice knight, to wear white armour, without a device upon the shield until by his prowess he had earned one. These reflections made him waver in his purpose, but his craze being stronger than any reasoning, he made up his mind to have himself dubbed a knight by the first one he came across, following the example of others in the same case, as he had read in the books that brought him to this pass. As for white armour, he resolved, on the first opportunity, to scour his until it was whiter than an ermine; and so comforting himself he pursued his way, taking that which his horse chose, for in this he believed lay the essence of adventures.
In chapter two, don Quixote mounts up, rides out of his modest hacienda, for the first time as a knight-errant.
Cervantes intends the reader to develop considerable sympathy for Quixote. 
Quixote has prepared in earnest but inadequately for whatever challenges he may face.
Consider the possibility that Quixote is being presented as a Christian (not Jewish) messianic figure: 
has assumed a new identity; 
- intends to do good throughout the world by conquering evil; 
- takes on the role of a majestic sufferer; 
- is confident of his ultimate vindication, despite all obstacles;
- awaits proper authoritative sanction, before he can undertake his mission across the earth. 
- relies on cosmic direction, by letting his horse pick the route. 
All of this is revealed in Chapter two, in the first paragraph.
True, Quixote is middle age which doesn't fit messianic notions. 
True also, Cervantes insists that Quixote has lost his mind.

But in this satire, Cervantes is willing to undermine the traditional messianic ideal by presenting to the world, an elderly, insane Messiah.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

By your name, shall your qualities be known . . . Really?

Chapter One

By your name, shall your qualities be known.

This seems to be the controlling idea, as the hidalgo Quixada prepares for his new life as a knight-errant.

First, his steed: 
". . . después de muchos nombres que formó, borró y quitó, añadió, deshizo y tornó a hacer en su memoria e imaginación, al fin le vino a llamar Rocinante nombre, a su parecer, alto, sonoro y significativo de lo que había sido cuando fue rocín, antes de lo que ahora era, que era antes y primero de todos los rocines del mundo."
". . . after a multitude of names being composed, erased, rejected, combined, taken apart, and turned inside out by his memory and imagination, at last he came to call him Rocinante, which seemed to him lofty, sonorous, and which signified what he had been, a hack before [rocin antes] to what he now had become - from then to now, foremost of all the hacks of all time."
Then, himself:
". . . duró otros ocho días, y al cabo se vino a llamar don Quijote. . . . como buen caballero, añadir al suyo el nombre de la suya y llamarse don Quijote de la Mancha, con que, a su parecer, declaraba muy al vivo su linaje y patria, y la honraba con tomar el sobrenombre della."
" . . . he took another eight days, and finally came to call himself don Quijote. . . . like a good knight, adding the name of his [country and kingdom] and calling himself don Quijote of la Mancha, in this way, as it seemed to him, he asserted his lineage to be very much alive and his country very much honored by his taking his surname from it."
Then, his Lady, Princess and Queen:
". . . el caballero andante sin amores era árbol sin hojas y sin fruto y cuerpo sin alma. . . . fue, a lo que se cree, que en un lugar cerca del suyo había una moza labradora de muy buen parecer, de quien él un tiempo anduvo enamorado, aunque, según se entiende, ella jamás lo supo, ni le dio cata dello. Llamábase Aldonza Lorenzo, y a ésta le pareció ser bien darle título de señora de sus pensamientos; y, buscándole nombre que no desdijese mucho del suyo, y que tirase y se encaminase al de princesa y gran señora, vino a llamarla Dulcinea del Toboso, porque era natural del Toboso; nombre, a su parecer, músico y peregrino y significativo, como todos los demás que a él y a sus cosas había puesto."
". . . A knight-errant without loves is a tree without leaves or fruit, a body without a soul. . . . there had been, as the story goes, in a locale close to his own, a very good-looking farm-girl, whom he had once fallen for, even though, so it was thought, she never knew or gave a thought to it. She was Aldonza Lorenzo and to her, it seemed to him now, fitting to bestow the title of Señora, upon whom his strivings would be centered; and searching out a name that should not disharmonize with her own and that also should point and lead to a name fit for a princess or a great señora, he hit on calling her Dulcinea of Toboso, since she was from Toboso; this was a name, so it seemed to him, musical, high-minded, profound, exactly like the other names that he had chosen for himself and his accoutrements."  
I think Cervantes invites us to see through the pitiful pretense to the humor in hidalgo Quixada's deranged preparations. 


Quijote's work horse is to become the grandest steed, by a change of name, with the new name a pun on the old horse's actual lot in life, a workhorse. But now a war horse. 

don Quijote

Is this name supposed to bring to mind Sir Lancelot? - Lansarote, in Spanish. 

Dulcinea of Toboso

Quijote's reverenced damsel is a farm-girl, who knows nothing of her present fanciful elevation in status, just as she knew nothing of Quixada's earlier fixation.

If we laugh at this deranged figure of a man, can we dislike him? Would it be possible to read a thousand pages about a personage you dislike?

Quijote is about (1) self-reinvention and (2) doing good in the world. 

By investing his central figure with these promptings, does Cervantes expect the reader to know, these two motivations are profoundly human and equally difficult to accomplish? Are they?

Is a name merely a superficial title, with no reference to the inner person?

Might a change of name change your character?