In May last year I saw Massenet’s Don Quichote at La Monnaie and vowed that I would read Cervantes’s original over the summer. Well, I did, but the summer in question was this one! I have only read the first volume, the original one (published in 1605), so far (in Edith Grossman’s excellent translation). I know the second volume (published in 1615) becomes more philosophical and maybe I will change my point of view but I have a number of observations to make. The first is that although Cervantes’s Don Quixote is madly (and maddeningly) romantic he is also a physically dangerous lunatic. He not only risks his own life and that of the poor Sancho Panchez but seeks to do serious damage with his sword – and sometimes succeeds. The second is a suspicion that the iconic scene where he tilts at windmills is quite so well known because it happens early on in what is quite a lengthy text (there are other iconic devices – inns are always castles to Don Quixote, for example, and prostitutes are invariably maidens whose honour must be defended). The third is that the book contains a number of stories that don’t directly involve the two protagonists – not the least of them being the tale of the recklessly curious man (chapters 33 to 35). At times it reads like a bracketed set of short stories (like A Thousand and One Nights). The fourth, more spuriously, is that the mule train drivers who populate Cervantes’s countryside as much as shepherds and villagers and inn-keepers were clearly to Spain in the seventeenth century what lorry drivers are to Europe now. Coming back to my first observation, though, the overall moral I draw from the story is that those who live in a fantasy are capable of inflicting great hurt on others as on themselves. It is, in other words, a cautionary tale as much as anything else.