3 years ago
"Don Quixote, the supreme masterpiece of Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), has intrigued illustrators practically from the moment of its first appearance at the beginning of the seventeenth century. This tale of Don Quixote -- a courageous, highminded and well-educated country squire whose one besetting fault is his literal belief that the days of chivalry are not over -- and Sancho Panza -- his peasant squire who combines ignorance and gullibility with common sense and a healthy instinct for self-preservation -- is a quick succession of graphically described humorous incidents that cry out for visual representation. The original edition (First Part, 1605; Second Part, 1615) included only a few stock woodcuts, but from 1618 on, Don Quixote, which was quickly translated into several other European languages, could boast of editions with original title-page illustrations and increasingly large numbers of plates. Among the outstanding eighteenth-century illustrators of Don Quixote were the French artist Antoine Coypel and the German Daniel Chodowiecki. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Englishman Thomas Stothard and the Frenchman Eugène Lami were perhaps the most successful illustrators of the work. But all of these contributions are nearly forgotten today, whereas Doré's pictures for Cervantes' novel immediately come to mind.
Gustave Doré (1832-1883) was only thirty-one when his version of Don Quixote was published, but he had already been working for some ten years at his mammoth program of illustrating the great world classics. His Don Quixote illustrations, based to a great extent on his own travels in Spain, were done for the Parisian firm L. Hachette et Cie, which originally published them in 1863 within the framework of a complete annotated French translation of Cervantes' novel by Louis Viardot. The two folio volumes contained 120 full-page plates in addition to 259 smaller wood engravings: one headpiece (horizontal, full text width) and one tailpiece (a small vignette) for each of the 126 chapters, plus 7 front-matter illustrations. The wood engravings were prepared from Doré's drawings by H. Pisan, a longtime associate of the artist.
The present volume includes all 120 full-page plates and a selection of the 70 most lively and inventive headpieces and tailpieces. The art is reproduced directly from a fine copy of the 1869 printing of the Hachette edition. Whereas the captions in the original French edition consisted of brief and detached direct quotations from the text, the English captions specially prepared for this Dover edition summarize the action indicated in the illustrations, with a view to carrying the story line along. Except for the name of Don Quixote (used in that form rather than "Quijote") and one or two other historical names for which the usual English form is retained, the characters' names are based on the original Spanish text."
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