This map plots the settings and references in Don Quixote

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La Mancha
Meseta herd

   An arid region in central Spain, La Mancha is still largely based around agriculture, as it was in Cervantes' time.  It is ironic that, although he ensured its name would live forever with the success of his masterpiece, Cervantes probably selected it as the perfect example of placid, rural anonymity.  Having his would-be knight 'Don Quixote of La Mancha' hail from the middle of a dry, dusty expanse of farmland made the satirical bent of Cervantes' novel clear from its very title.  As John Ormsby rather uncharitably wrote in the preface to his 1885 translation, 'even a glimpse of La Mancha will give an insight into the meaning of Cervantes such as no commentator can give. Of all the regions of Spain it is the last that would suggest the idea of romance'.

 

A testament to the region's unspectacular appearance is the fact that the only significant historical depictions of it are to be found in illustrations for various editions of Don Quixote itself.  Over the years, as the book grew from a popular farce to become a celebrated icon of classic literature, perceptions of La Mancha itself seem to have gained in grandeur purely through association.  Gustave Doré, who also illustrated genuine medieval romances including Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, sets Quixote's misadventures against a spectacular background which seems to indulge rather than satirise his delusions.