Cervantes offers his novel to the Count of Lemos, saying that he is sending Don Quixote back out into the world to “purge the disgust and nausea caused by another Don Quixote who has been running about the world masquerading as the Second Part.” Cervantes says he rejected an offer from the emperor of China to be the rector of a college of Castilian language in which The History of Don Quixote would be the primary textbook. Because the emperor did not send an advance, Cervantes sent his envoy away and decided to commend his work to the Count of Lemos.
Cervantes introduces the Second Part, the account of the third expedition of Don Quixote, by railing against an author who has published a false sequel to the First Part of Don Quixote. Cervantes suggests that if readers run into that author, they should tell him a story about a man who, using a hollow cane, inflated a dog to the astonishment of bystanders. The man’s response to his audience’s questioning was to ask them whether they think it is an easy thing to blow up a dog.
Cervantes also wants the reader to pass on an anecdote about a man who carried around a heavy slab that he drops on dogs in the street. One day, a dog owner beats the man, making him too afraid to drop slabs on any more dogs. Cervantes suggests the author should be likewise afraid to publish any more bad books. Cervantes defends his honor against the personal slights the other author has made, saying that although he may be poor and a cripple, he has earned his wounds in battle and is proud of them.
Cervantes tells us that Cide Hamete Benengeli continues his account of Don Quixote’s adventures by recounting the priest and the barber’s visit to Don Quixote after a month of not seeing him. Don Quixote initially seems sane, but when the priest gets him started talking about chivalry, it becomes clear that Don Quixote has not given up his intention of being a knight-errant.
Sancho comes to visit Don Quixote to find out when they will again embark on their quest for adventure, but the niece and the housekeeper try to keep Sancho out of the house. Don Quixote orders them to let Sancho in and then asks Sancho about Don Quixote’s reputation in the village. Sancho tells him that many consider him mad. He then tells Don Quixote about the publication of a book of their previous adventures. The book contains so many details that Sancho marvels that the writer could have learned about all of them. Don Quixote thinks that the writer is a sage enchanter, but Sancho says the writer is a Moor whose name is Cide Hamete Aubergine. Sancho goes to the village to find the student Sampson Carrasco, from whom he has heard about the book.
While Sancho fetches Sampson, Don Quixote muses that the Moorish enchanter who wrote the book must either want to tear him down or exalt him. He laments that the author is a Moor because he does not believe that Moors ever tell the truth. Sampson arrives and tells Don Quixote about the book and its author, Cide Hamete Benengeli. He also mentions that the book has been translated into Christian tongues. Sampson criticizes the novel for the anecdotal digressions in which Don Quixote plays no part but says that everyone enjoys reading the novel nonetheless. He also mentions several textual inconsistencies regarding the appearance and disappearance of Dapple. Sancho says he can explain those inconsistencies but runs off with a stomachache.
Sancho returns and explains that a thief stole Dapple from him when he was strung up. Sampson says that Sancho’s explanation does not justify the inconsistencies in the book, and Sancho replies that perhaps the author or the printer made an error. He explains how he spent the hundred crowns he found in the saddlebags in the Sierra Morena, and Sampson promises to tell the author so that he can revise the book. Sampson says that the author promises to publish the Second Part when he finds the manuscript. Sampson then tells Don Quixote about a jousting festival in Saragossa and suggests that he seek fame there. Don Quixote begs Sampson to write a poem in which each line begins with a letter of Dulcinea’s name.
Cervantes tells us that “the translator” doubts that this chapter is authentic because it seems impossible that Sancho would have spoken in such a high style. Cervantes does not identify this translator. Sancho goes home to Teresa—whose name at the end of the First Part is Juana—and tells her that he will soon be leaving with Don Quixote on another adventure. Teresa warns Sancho not to dream too much and to be content with his station. Sancho replies that he wants to marry off his daughter and make her a countess. Teresa objects to this plan, saying that people are happier when they marry within their own class.
The niece and housekeeper beg Don Quixote to stay at home. They say that if he must go he should join the king’s court rather than go on more adventures. Don Quixote insists that he must do what he was born to do and pursue his life as a knight-errant. He discusses honor and pedigree, claiming that he knows of only two ways to increase fame and honor—through arms or letters—and that he has chosen arms.
Distressed at Don Quixote’s madness, the housekeeper begs Sampson to speak with him. Sancho visits Don Quixote, and they discuss Teresa’s advice and her wish that Sancho receive wages from Don Quixote. Don Quixote refuses to fix Sancho’s wages and tells him to stay home if he does not have the strength to be a squire. Sancho weeps and promises to come along. Sampson too visits Don Quixote, but instead of dissuading him from his journey, Sampson encourages him to embark at once. Cervantes alludes to a plan Sampson has developed with the priest and the barber and says that the plan will be detailed later in the history.
Cervantes’s mention of the imposter who publishes the false sequel of the story makes the novel more self-referential. In real life, an author by the name of Avellaneda wrote a false sequel to Don Quixote that appeared several years after the original publishing of the First Part of Don Quixote, in 1605. This false sequel not only inspired Cervantes to hurry along his own sequel, which he published in 1615, but it altered the context of that text. Cervantes chose to mention the false sequel in his fictional tale, further blurring the line between the novel’s fictional and historical aspects.
On the one hand, we can argue that the story of Don Quixote remains fictional. In the First Part, the only person who speaks of Cide Hamete Benengeli is Cervantes himself. It is logical for Cervantes to be the only one to do so, since if Cide Hamete Benengeli did indeed originate the tale, as Cervantes claims he did, then the characters in the tale would not be able to speak about him as their author. However, the world of the novel in the Second Part is not logical, and Sancho refers directly to Cide Hamete Benengeli. Therefore, if we still have any doubts about the tongue-in-cheek nature of Cervantes’s initial claim that he is writing from the historical manuscript of Cide Hamete Benengeli, we can put those doubts to rest. One could argue that in the decade that passed between the publication of the First Part and the Second Part, the characters, if they were historical personages, would have been able, in real life, to find out about Benengeli, Avellaneda, and even Cervantes. But the Second Part picks up only one month—not years—after the end of the First Part. Nevertheless, Sancho later writes a letter to his wife and dates it 1615, the year the Second Part was published. Because of the deep correlation between the actual, historical publication of the novel and the story it contains, this letter should also date the first half of the novel as 1615, but we know that it was published in 1605. This discrepancy emphasizes the novel’s fictional nature.
The concept of authorship, especially as it relates to Don Quixote’s control of his own fate, plays a large role in the Second Part. The idea of vague authorship illuminates the conflict between the imaginary world and the real one, a conflict that Don Quixote himself embodies. Essentially, Cervantes allows the characters to influence their own story like authors. When Don Quixote expresses his concern over the accuracy of the First Part of the novel, he, the main character of the First Part, doubts the accuracy of his own story. Moreover, despite the fact that Cervantes states in the First Part that he is the translator of Cide Hamete Benengeli’s work, he now refers to an unidentified translator without providing any clues about this translator’s identity. We are thus left with an even blurrier picture of the truth.
The trickery of Don Quixote’s friends in this opening section reveals their desire to see Don Quixote once again go out to pursue his fantasies. The priest, who spends so much time in the First Part trying to coax Don Quixote home, delights in the fact that his friend is apparently still mad. Similarly, Sampson Carrasco’s lie to the housekeeper that he will talk sense into Don Quixote exposes his knavery and his willingness to play with Don Quixote’s imagination. The priest and Samson mimic Sancho, who buys into Don Quixote’s whims even though he knows that his master is insane. By encouraging Don Quixote’s madness, these characters reveal their own desire for adventure. They express this desire vicariously through Don Quixote.