Don Quixote Volume 1, Chapter 1
Don Quijote lived in a village in La Mancha with a housekeeper, a niece, and a boy who helped on his estate. His true family name was probably Quejana. Nearly 50 years old, he was strong and thin with a gaunt, pointed face. Always an avid hunter, he had also become an avid reader of novels about knight errantry; even going so far as to sell rich productive farm land to buy these books. He loved the rich prose of Feliciano de Silva, relishing passages like the one below:
"The ability to reason the un-reason which has afflicted by reason saps my ability to reason, so that I complain with good reason of your infinite loveliness." Volume 1, Chapter 1, pg. 13
He would reflect on these intricate passages at night, trying to understand the deep meaning hidden in them, "which even Aristotle couldn't have comprehended if he'd come back to life just for that purpose." Volume 1, Chapter 1, pg. 14
Eventually, reading these books all day and all night, he lost his grip on reality and came to believe that these stories were historical fact. He would argue with the village priest, Señor Pero Perez, (who had a degree from a local university), and with the village barber, Master Nicolas, over which of these fictional characters was the better knight.
At last, Don Quijote decides to seek honor and glory and fulfill his duty (to right wrongs), and become an actual knight errant. He cleans his great grandfather's suit of armor, and repairs the helmet as best he can (it's missing pieces). He gives his old, skinny, scarred horse the name Rocinante (which translates to rocin: old horse, ante: before), which he feels befits the horse's new station in life -- the steed of a famous knight. He then renames himself Don Quijote (quijote: thigh armor) of La Mancha, modeling his name after one of the knight errants in chivalric tale, Amadís of Gaul, (who had taken part of his name from the region he came from). Since all the knight errants in these books have a lady they love and serve; he selects Aldonza Lorenzo, an attractive peasant girl from the nearby village of Toboso, (whom he has never spoken to), to be his lady love. He bestows on her the title "Mistress of His Thoughts" (pg. 16) and renames her Dulcinea del Toboso.