is impracticality in pursuit of ideals, especially those ideals manifested by rash, lofty and romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action. It also serves to describe an idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...
without regard to practicality. An impulsive person or act might be regarded as quixotic.
Quixotism is usually related to "over-idealism", meaning an idealism that doesn't take consequence or absurdity into account. It is also related to naïve romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...
and to utopianism. It can be a term regarded as someone or something that is resentful of a previous age in history, and boasts that his/her time is better; it can also come to mean just to be hateful of the squalor and frivolity of medieval times.
Quixotism as a term or a quality appeared after the publication of El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha
in 1605. Don Quixote, the hero of this novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....
, written by Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, dreams up a romantic ideal world which he believes to be real, and acts on this idealism, which most famously leads him into imaginary
Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses...
fights with windmill
A windmill is a machine which converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades. Originally windmills were developed for milling grain for food production. In the course of history the windmill was adapted to many other industrial uses. An important...
s that he regards as giant
The mythology and legends of many different cultures include monsters of human appearance but prodigious size and strength. "Giant" is the English word commonly used for such beings, derived from one of the most famed examples: the gigantes of Greek mythology.In various Indo-European mythologies,...
Already in the 17th century the term Quixote
was used to describe a person that does not distinguish between reality and imagination. The poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...
John Cleveland was an English poet.The son of an usher in a charity school, Cleveland was born in Loughborough, and educated at Hinckley Grammar School. Admitted to Christ's College, Cambridge, he graduated BA in 1632 and became a fellow of St John's College in 1634...
wrote in 1644, in his book The character of a London diurnall
- "The Quixotes of this Age fight with the Wind-mills of their owne Heads"
The word Quixotism
is mentioned, for the first time, in Pulpit Popery, True Popery
- "All the Heroical Fictions of Ecclesiastical Quixotism"