Alonso Quijano

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Alonso Quijano
Don Quixote character
Don Quijote8.png
Alonso Quijano (seated) beside his squire Sancho. Illustration by Wilhelm Marstrand (1810-1873).
Created byMiguel de Cervantes
ReligionRoman Catholic

Alonso Quijano (spelled Quixano in English and in the Spanish of Cervantes' day) is the personal name of the famous fictional hidalgo (noble) who is better known as Don Quijote, a name he invents after falling into madness (insanity). Alonso Quijano/Don Quijote is the leading character of the novel Don Quijote de la Mancha, written by Miguel de Cervantes.

At the outset of the work (Chapter 1 of Part I) we are informed that there is confusion about what his name is. Some (imaginary) authors, the text says, disagree about whether his name was Quijada or Quesada, although by reasoning ("conjeturas verosímiles") one could arrive at the name Quijana. At this point, Quijano is not even mentioned as a possibility, nor is Alonso. In Chapter 49 of Part I he tells us that he was a direct descendant of Gutierre Quijada. His "real" name of Alonso Quijano is only revealed (invented) in the last chapter of Part II, and with the stated purpose of demonstrating the falseness of the spurious Part II of the pseudonymous Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda, in which work the protagonist is Martín Quijada.

Knights in the chivalric books Alonso Quijano read, which reading caused his madness, have nicknames. In Chapter 19 of Part I his squire Sancho Panza invents his first nickname, the hard-to-translate "Caballero de la Triste Figura": knight of miserable (triste) appearance (figura). Sancho explains its meaning: Don Quijote is the worst-looking man he has ever seen, thin from hunger and missing most of his teeth. After an encounter with lions, Don Quijote hinself invents his second nickname, "Knight of the Lions", in Part II, Chapter 17.

Physical characteristics[edit]

Besides the above comment of Sancho, we find the following descriptions of him:

  • His age was about 50, with a solid (recio) complexion, his flesh shriveled (seco), a gaunt face. (Part I, Chapter 1)
  • He was tall, a shrunken (seco) face, long, wrinkled arms and legs, half bald, his nose like that of an eagle, but curved, and with a large and droopy moustache. (Part II, Chapter 14)

Don Quijote himself says that he was impotent (Part I, Chapter 16) and a virgin (Part II, Chapter 48).