Quixotism is the description of a person or an act that is caught up in the romance of noble deeds and the pursuit of unreachable goals. It also serves to describe an
idealismwithout regard to practicality. An impulsive person or act can be regarded as quixotic.
Quixotism is usually related to "over-idealism", meaning an idealism that doesn't take the consequences into account. It is also related to
naïve romanticismand to utopianism.
Quixotism as a term or a quality appeared after the publication of "El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha" in
1605. The hero of this novel, that is written by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, dreams up a romantic ideal world which he believes to be real, and acts on this idealism, which most famously leads him into imaginary fights with windmills that he regards as giants.
Already in the 17th century the term Quixote was used to describe a person that does not distinguish between reality and imagination. The
poet John Clevelandwrote 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" [http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/tilting-at-windmills.html]
The word Quixotism is mentioned, for the first time, in "Pulpit Popery, True Popery" (
1688)::"All the Heroical Fictions of Ecclesiastical Quixotism"
:"At worst his scruples must have been quixotic, not malicious" (
A song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is titled "Quixoticelixir."
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