Since its publication in the early seventeenth century, Don Quixote has become a classic of world literature, and its hero a symbol of romantic aspiration and absurdity. Even today, Cervantes’s mad knight continues to reach out and hook readers’ psyches. Don Quixote is the story of a verisimilar literary character, whose rich and conflicted inner life and encounters with the world around him became the prototype for the modern novel from Tom Jones to Lolita. Johnson situates Quixote within its relevant historical and cultural context, including the uniquely Spanish form of the general European dialectic of Old versus New. The mad hero’s encounters with the world expose the shaky foundations of that conflictive society. Don Quixote was a revolutionary ideological statement in its own time, and has proved to be a revolutionary literary statement for all time. Johnson shows how Cervantes challenges the official poetics of the late sixteenth century, and simultaneously anticipates virtually every aspect of the trendiest theorizing of the late twentieth century.