CERVANTES Saavedra, Miguel de. El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha

Madrid, Joaquín Ibarra., 1780

Quarto (290 x 255 mm.), 4 volumes; [4], XIV, CCXXIV, 199 pages; [4], 418 pages; [2], XIV, 306 pages; [4], 346 pages. Engraved frontispiece in each volume, folding map of Spain charting Don Quixote’s itineraries, a fullpage portrait of Cervantes and 31 plates, engraved head- and tail-pieces and opening initials, by F. Selma, M.L. Carmona, G.A. Gil, P. Moles, J. Fabregat, J. Ballester, J. de la Cruz, F. Montaner and J. Barcelo after A. Carnicero, J. del Castillo, J. Brunete, B. Barranco, P. Arnal, G. Gil and G. Ferro. Contemporary Spanish red sheep, covers with gilt-tooled frames, spines in compartments richly gilt with two green morocco lettering-pieces, marbled endpapers, gilt edges, red silk ribbon marker. A very fine set from Bibliothecae Heideggeriana (ex libris).

First issue of this stupendous illustrated edition by the Spanish Royal Academy Printer Joaquín Ibarra. It is the most famous and the most beautifully produced of all Quixote’s editions, and is commonly regarded as the very masterpiece of Spanish printing (Brunet, I 1749: “Cette édition est un vrai chef-d’oeuvre typographique”; Updike, I 7: «The finest edition of Don Quixote that has ever been printed» Right after its first edition in 1605 and 1615, Cervantes’ novel met immediate success in Spain and all over Europe; at the same time, its rapid diffusion subverted the text, multiplying the orthographic mistakes and the variations from the original (so the Introduction to Ibarra’s edition: “among the many editions that have been made of Don Quixote within and without the kingdom, it can truthfully be said that there is none that does not have substantial defects”). Due to this fact, in 1773 the Spanish Royal Academy commissioned and supervised an ultimate, perfect edition, philologically correct under every point of view and lavishly adorned, in an attempt “both to restore the original text and to frame the work in an edition physically more appropriate to its status as a classic. […] This edition was monumental in an explicitly metaphorical sense: it erected the work of a founding author of Spanish literature as a national monument. As the writer of the academy’s prologue points out, the paper was specially made in the factory of Joseph Llorens, a new typeface designed by Gerónimo Gil, and the printing undertaken by Ibarra; this edition, made of the best and by the best, was physically a completely Spanish monument to the author” (Schmidt 1999, 140). The rich iconographic set was accordingly realized with the cooperation of the most renowned artists of 18th century Spain. The illustrations were committed to Antonio Carnicero and José del Castillo and, in a lesser part, to Bernardo Barranco, Gregorio Ferro, Jerónimo Antonio Gil, José Brunete, and Pedro Arnal; the engravings were committed to the same Jerónimo Antonio Gil, to Manuel Carmona, Joaquín Fabregat, Rafael Ximeno and Fernando Selma. Since philological purity had to match with typographical perfection, the metal plates on which the images were engraved were to be bigger than the paper, in order to avoid the blank impression of the plate’s shape. This edition also provides the first attempt to chart Don Quixote’s itineraries, thanks to a map of Spain realized by the Royal Geographer Tomás López, with the help of the famous military engineer José de Hermosilla. In so doing, consistent with much of the intellectual enterprise undertaken by scholars in the reign of Charles III (1759-1788), Ibarra’s edition was intended as an instrument of cultural politics: while proclaiming Don Quixote a national treasure and granting its author the memorial his contemporaries had failed to erect, it endeavoured to restore Spain’s own glory.

H.S. Ashbee, Iconography of Don Quixote, 72; Suñé Benages - Suñé Fonbuena, 60; Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, Exposición Conmemorativa del Quijote, 52; J.C. Brunet, I 1749; H. Cohen - S. de Ricci, 218-19; J. Givanel Mas, Colección Cervantina, 365; A. Palau, 52024; PMM Fine Printing, 123; D. Updike, Printing Types, I 7.

Other Books

MEDA RIQUIER rare books ltd.
4 Bury Street St James's
SW1Y 6AB London

Phone +44 (0) 7770457377