Heritage Press: Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1951)

November 14, 2014 Comments Off on Heritage Press: Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1951)

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1951)
Sandglass Number VI:16
Artwork: Illustrations by Edy Legrand
Translated by John Ormsby, Introduced by Irwin Edman
Reprint of LEC #209, 20th Series, V. 1, in 1951 in 2 volumes.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – The Spanish classic to end all of their classics, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote, is today’s subject. The Limited Editions Club seemingly liked this work more than many others, as this is the second time the Club dipped into that well. The first, LEC exclusive issuing came out early on in the LEC lifespan, 1933. This edition was illustrated by Enric-Cristobal Ricart, and was distributed in two volumes. In 1945, long time George Macy Comapny alum Edy Legrand (see The Nibelungenlied for his complete Macy bibliography) expressed his interest in illustrating a second Don Quixote to Macy. Macy relates in the Sandglass that Legrand, although a Frenchman of birth, had adopted Spain as his second nationality, and wished to challenge himself at the proposition of rendering the greatest Spanish literary work. After reviewing some early sketches, Macy agreed, and Legrand went to work, creating 200 individual illustrations as a first draft; his final submission was 48 full page pen/dry brush drawings, five years later. The LEC published their edition in 2 volumes in 1951, which featured colored versions of the art seen here. Cervantes did not receive any other LEC or Heritage offerings.

The year is unstated here, but GMD member featherwate passed along this info about its publication:

Jerry, it was the selection for November 1951, coming between The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche illustrated by Edmund Dulac and Gray’s Elegy (Agnes Miller Parker). In fact, illustrator-wise this was one heckuva series (Series 16 June 1951 to May 1952). As well as Dulac and AMP it included among others Fritz Eichenberg (Crime & Punishment and the Olivier Henry V*), Hugo Steiner-Prag (Tales of Hoffman), Valenti Angelo (Sonnets from the Portuguese) and Edward A. Wilson (Jekyll and Hyde) – quite an array!
As for George Macy saying he read the Rabelais 25 years before, I guess he was just rounding up to a neat figure. As he does in the Quixote Sandglass where he refers to it as a book of “nearly eight hundred pages”. I think it’s actually 682!
Never mind the length – it’s the quality that matters!

Design Notes – The exact designer of this edition is not stated in the Sandglass. The LEC Monthly Letter for this edition, however, illuminates the likely designer to be Victor Oliva, printer of the original 1933 LEC edition of Quixote. Why do I posit that? Well, Macy says that this book features the “self-same text” from the 1933 edition. Spain was apparently not an option for this edition, which is a bit of a shame (the 1933 edition was, FYI), but Macy felt Mexico was a solid alternative. The text selection was Bodoni, decorated with custom initials. This was originally set and printed at the Imprenta Nuevo Mundo for the LEC issuing, and the Heritage copyright page states that it was done there as well. Legrand’s artwork was reproduced by Paris’ Georges Duval, who then sent the prints to the Meriden Gravure Company for the Heritage run. The binding is also an international affair — bright yellow cloth from England, marbled papers for the boards from France. The bindery is absent here, alas, but the LEC was done by the standards at Russell-Rutter; it’s safe to suppose they had their hands in this edition, too.

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Slipcase – The paper for this slipcase from Italy.

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Title Page – Irwin Edman wrote up a short introduction, with John Ormsby serving as both translator and preface writer. He did his translation in 1885, but the Club felt his was the most scholarly choice for their readers. There’s quite a bit of talk about Samuel Putnam in the Sandglass, whose translation of Quixote was just released (and its publishers urged Macy to consider it for his second LEC edition!), but the ultimate decision was to pass on it due to an earlier transaction with Putnam. In 1928, Macy acquired a three volume work of Rabelais that Putnam translated, and found that the work did not hold up a decade later. Thus, the decision to go with Ormsby. Victor Oliva contributed additional notes.

Examples of the Illustrations by Legrand (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I’ve spent YEARS looking for a good copy of Quixote. I’ve not had the greatest luck, as the two copies I saw before this one were in horrendous condition and curiously overpriced. Luckily, I came across this one last year in Dublin, CA at Half Price Books, which was complete and in very good condition save a prior owner’s nom de plume on the front endpaper. The price was right at about $10, too, so I snagged it and am happy to finally have my own copy! I’ll have to read it some day!

* = featherwate made a slight error here; Fritz Kredel was the illustrator of Henry V, not Fritz Eichenberg. It happens!

Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):

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