Don Quixote

Don Quixote, first published in 1604, under the title The Ingenious Knight of La Mancha, recounts the exploits of would be Knight and his loyal servant Sancho Panza. In the novel Knight proposes to fight injustice through chivalry. It is considered one of the major literary masterpieces and remains a best seller in numerous translations. In this book the hero imagines himself to be fighting giants when he attacks windmills.

When the pair are approaching La Mancha thirty or forty windmills come into view, riseing from the plain. Our hero said to his squire "Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless."

"What giants?" asked Sancho Panza.

"Those you see over there," replied his master, "with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length."

"Take care, sir," cried Sancho. "Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone."

From this extract comes the expression "tilting at windmills" meaning "fighting unwinnable battles"( Tilting is a term used in jousting)

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