Cervantes, in writing his most famous work, The History of Don Quixote, in it 605, stated that its “fabulous extravagances” should be interpreted as “only an invective against the books of chivalry” which had been riotously produced in Spain.
There is reason to doubt the sincerity of that statement, however, because the books he referred to had already been out of fashion for fifty years.
But he created the characters of the decayed nobleman, Don Quixote, and of his stout serving-man, Sancho Panza, in burlesque imitation of the valiant knights and faithful squires of earlier writers.
He made the elderly Don on his ignoble steed the very epitome of chivalry in its purest form, inspired by high ideals and filled with enthusiasm, but pitifully and ludicrously unaware of the false and visionary nature of his dreams. The book became immensely popular and, though Cervantes died in great poverty a dozen years later, it was translated into most of the languages of Europe.
It added the word quixotic to our language, expressive of lofty but impractical sentiments resembling those of the foolishly romantic hero, Don Quixote.