"FULL OF GRACE, DELICACY AND POETIC FEELING": ILLUSTRATED DON QUIXOTE, 1818, WITH 48 ENGRAVED PLATES AND 26 VIGNETTES, HANDSOMELY BOUND
CERVANTES SAAVEDRA, Miguel de. Don Quixote de la Mancha. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1818. Four volumes. Octavo, contemporary full polished brown calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, green spine labels, raised bands, marbled endpapers and edges. $4600.
First edition of Mary Smirke's translation of Cervantes' "great, ironical, romantic story" (Powys 27), illustrated with 26 vignettes by Robert Smirke and 48 fine full-page engraved plates by various engravers (including Heath and Finden) after his designs, beautifully bound in full polished calf.
Don Quixote is "one of those universal works which are read by all ages at all times" (PMM 111) .This preeminent edition of Don Quixote is highly regarded for its illustrations by Robert Smirke and its skillful translation from the Spanish by his daughter Mary Smirke. Robert Smirk, who is "dear to book-collectors as the illustrator of the Scriptures, Shakespeare, Milton" and more (Allibone, 2125), here produced "a lovely series of illustrations, full of grace, delicacy and poetic feeling" (Ashbee 119). He primarily "painted in oil or in grisaille and he frequently produced works on a small format to facilitate their reproduction as engravings. His style is notable for its flowing, refined drawing, and his use of characterization is typically expressive, revealing playful humor or drama" (DNB). Mary Smirk, who provided the translation for this splendid edition of Cervantes' classic, prepared her translation by diligently comparing such earlier English versions as those of Shelton, Smollett and Jarvis. Her "thoughtful judgments… in the correction of the text," in conjunction with her father's illustrations, make this version "a beautiful edition" of Cervantes’ classic work (Río y Rico 486). Often lauded as the first modern novel, Don Quixote was first published in two parts, 1605 and 1615. Also issued in a large-paper, quarto edition. Iconografía de las Ediciones del Quijote (English) 440. Escuerdo 1187. Bonsoms I Sicart 466. Exposicion Conmemorativa 337. Lowndes, 401. Allibone, 2125. Each volume with armorial bookplate of James Comerford.
Interior very fresh with faintest scattered foxing. A splendid copy in about-fine condition.