Le valeureux Don Quixote de la Manche. ov l’histoire de ses grands exploicts d’armes, fideles Amours, & Aduentures estranges.

Paris, Chez Denys Moreav, 1632 (with)

CERVANTES SAAVEDRA, Miguel, de. L’histoire de l’ingenievx, et redovtable cheualier, don-Qvichot de la Manche. … Et traduicte fidelement en nostre langue, par F. de Rosset.

Paris, Chez Denys Moreav, 1622


8vo. 2 volumes. 1) pp. [xvi], 720, [viii]. [a8, A-2Z8, 3A4.] 2) pp. (iv), 877 (i.e. 839), [v]. [á8, A-Z8, Aa-Zz8, Aaa-Fff8, Ggg4.] Roman letter, some Italic. Large and very charming engraving of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza on both titles, woodcut initials and headpieces, typographical ornaments, early (perhaps German) autograph on both titles, occasional contemporary marginal mss. annotation. Light age yellowing in first volume with some mostly marginal spotting, second with general light age yellowing, waterstaining to upper outer section of the last third, heavier towards end with some, mostly marginal, traces of dirt and mould, the odd marginal thumb mark or spot in both. Else good copies in uniform contemporary velum over thin boards, yapp edges, a little soiled

Extremely rare editions, complete with both parts, of the first French translations of Cervantes’ masterpiece, translated by Cesar Oudin for the first part and de Rosset for the second part. This is the fifth edition in French, (a near exact copy of the earlier editions by Fouet), of the first part, and the second edition of the second part (an exact copy of the first). In this copy of the second part, the date of 1622 has been altered by hand to make it look like 1632 so it would correspond to the reprinting of the first part at that date. Ruis (see Ruis 465) gives a long explanation, stating that it is, in fact, the 1622 edition for which Moreau printed an accompanying first part in 1632, and manually adjusted the date of the second part to make them correspond.

“In 1605, when Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616) published the first part of his innovative novel Don Quixote, he never could have anticipated the reception it would receive, both at home and abroad. The fact that this ground-breaking work was reissued five times in Spain in its first year alone is evidence of the resounding success his novel enjoyed in his native country (Melz). Today, four hundred years later, Don Quixote continues to be the second most read book after the Bible (Esterbrook); and in 2002, it was voted “the best work of fiction in the world” by “one hundred major writers from fifty-four countries” (Grossman, Don Quixote). Considered the first modern novel, Don Quixote’s popularity is due, in large part, to the fact that it offers something for everybody. Like Alice in Wonderland and Gulliver’s Travels, it can be read at different levels, enjoyed as a humorous tale, a biting satire, or a work of great literary depth.”  Candace Gardner ‘The Reception of Don Quixote in Seventeenth and Eigthteenth Century Germany’. “It is an inexhaustible study of human frailties, an open novel about friendship, love, liberty and censorship, about pursuing one’s own dreams, about reading and mental illness, about class struggle, about the power of the imagination and the absurdities of old age, about choosing between a soldier’s and a writer’s life. It is, in my estimation, a secular Bible: everything about the so-called enlightened society is contained in it. I’ve reread the volume countless times and have reached the conclusion that the universe was created with Don Quixote as one of its fixtures. Without it, life would feel incomplete.” Ilan Stavans. ‘One Master, Many Cervantes. Don Quixote in translation.’

The first translation in French of the first part, by Cesar Oudin, appeared in 1614 and the first edition in French of the second by Rosset in 1618. They were re-edited in 1616, 1620, and 1625 for the first part and 1622 for the second, before being put together in a single volume in 1625. The celebrated engraving on the title of these volumes, the first depiction of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, first appeared in the first French translation of the second part in 1618. It shows Don Quixote mounted upon Rocinante and Sancho on his donkey; both perfectly characterised. Don Quixote as a knight errant, with the basin on his head and a lance-pennant (as Knight of the Lions a detail taken from the second part). Sancho with a whip and his sword, a wind-mill in the background. Thomas Shelton then copied this image for his 1620 English edition. The iconography of Don Quixote is established from this image.

Early editions of the French translations of Don Quixote are particularly rare. “Despite the delay in its publication, Shelton’s (English) translation preceded that of any other foreign version, its nearest rival being the French rendering by César Oudin, which appeared in 1614. Both books were nearly thumbed out of existence, for when the British Museum in 1895 had the good luck to acquire first the one and then the other, the copy of Oudin was supposed to be unique, and of that of Shelton the only other known was that in the library of Lord Ashburnham. Other Sheltons have since come to light, and other Oudins may be in existence, but it is evident that neither with French nor with English readers was Don Quixote likely to remain long undisturbed on a book-shelf.”  Alfred W. Pollard.

Madame de Luynes, of the dedication in the first part, had a most colourful career, was close friends with the Queen of France and was involved in many intrigues at court acting as go-between between the Queen and the English Duke of Buckingham. Alexander Dumas included her in his Three Musketeers as Athos’s mistress and the Queen’s best friend where she plays a pivotal role as the intermediary between the Musketeers and the Queen. She also undoubtedly influenced Dumas in the creation of his character “Milady”, D’Artagnan’s devious female nemesis of the same work and more recently the ruthless Liana Taillefer in Perez-Reverte’s ‘Dumas Club’.

An exceptionally rare set of this monumental work, in contemporary bindings.

1) Ruis 465. Palau 52698 Not in BM STC Fr. C17th. 2) Ruis 464. Palau 52696 “El unico ejemplar que conocemos existe en la Bibliotheca de Cataluña”. Not in BM STC Fr. C17th.


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