CERVANTES SAAVEDRA, Miguel de (1547-1616)

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CERVANTES SAAVEDRA, Miguel de (1547-1616)
The ingenious hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha. Madrid: by J. de la Cuesta. Vendese in the house of Francisco de Robles, 1605.
Superb copy in French armorial binding of the first part of one of the greatest works of world literature, the second Madrid edition.

Don Quixote was an immediate international success and four separate editions appeared in the year of its first publication. The first edition, also printed in Madrid by La Cuesta is extremely rare, surviving in only 10 copies. Within weeks, two pirated editions of Don Quixote were published in Lisbon, and this authorized second edition was rushed to the press in Madrid; the third authorized edition appeared in Valencia before the end of the year. The second Madrid edition was compiled by typesetters from a copy of the first and seems to have followed the early type settings. While most of the book was printed at the press of Juan de la Cuesta, five quires of this edition (Mm-Qq) were printed at another press, the Imrenta Real, and the variations introduced there were passed on in most of Cervantes’ later editions. work.

Don Quixote was enthusiastically received throughout Europe and abroad. The present copy is remarkable not only for its exceptional condition but also for its contemporary or near-contemporary provenance, bound for Charles de Valois to a generation of its publication. Charles de Valois was the bastard son of Charles IX of France and Marie Touchet, ‘la belle Flamande’. In 1590, he married Charlotte, the eldest daughter of Constable Henri de Montmorency. In November 1604 he was sent to the Bastille (where, in 1604-05, interestingly, he had contact with two Spanish diplomats JB de Taxis and Baltasar de Zuniga via two English spies); although he was sentenced to life imprisonment, he was released in 1616 on the death of Henry IV and returned to public service. In 1619, Louis XIII created him Duke of Angoulême, and sent him as ambassador to Germany in 1620, where he participated in the conclusion of the Treaty of Ulm. He was involved in the wars against the Protestants of France, and died at the end of September 1650 at the age of 77.

Charles’ interest in Spain and Spanish literature is well attested, and he certainly knew Spanish. In 1636, he published in Paris a translation of the work of Diego de Torres originally published in Seville in 1586, Relation of the origin and success of the Xarifes. This was reprinted in 1637 and again in 1667 as part of volume 3 of Africa of Marmol (Palau 336359-62). He amassed an important library, which was left by his eldest son, Louis de Valois, Count of Alais, to the convent of the Minimes de La Guiche in Charolais. The collection was dispersed during the French Revolution. Palau 51977; Catalogo collective del patrimonio bibliografico spanish Signo xvii Cap-Cz (1992) no. 3609; RM Flores, The composers of the first and second Madrid editions of Don Quixote Part 1London: MHRA, 1975.

Fourth (196 x 138mm). Woodcut device on title page, woodcut initials, headboard and cul de lit (occasional light stains or small stain, mostly marginal). French red morocco from the early 17th century gilt on cardboard, the sides with the arms of Charles de Valois in the center and his monogram at the corners [Olivier 2600 fers 3 and 7], monogram repeated in the boxes of the smooth back, second box lettered ‘Quichotte De La Mancha’, gilt edges; Modern blue morocco folding box by Vernier. Origin: some handwritten notes in the margin – Charles de Valois, Duke of Angoulême (1573-1650; binding) – [sold Sotheby’s, 7 December, 2000, lot 56].

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