Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1933/1950)

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1933)
LEC #48, 4th Series, V. 12
Artwork: Illustrations by Enric-Cristobal Ricart
Translated and introduced by John Ormsby
LEC did a second edition of this work in 1950; see below for this edition.
#1384 of 1500

Click images for larger views.

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The Spanish classic to end all of their classics, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote, is today’s subject once again now that I have ALL of the variants. The original post focused on the second LEC and its Heritage reprint, but I want to add in the 1933 exclusive for comparative purposes.

The Limited Editions Club seemingly liked this work more than others, as this is the first time the Club dipped into that well with this 1933 LEC exclusive that featured the illustration talents of Enric-Cristobal Ricart, and was distributed in two volumes. As you’ll see below, Edy Legrand stepped into the artist role in 1950 for a second treatment. Cervantes is best known for this mighty novel, one of the earliest and most famous in all of literature. Don Quixote’s misadventures are legendary and even coined the term “quixotic”, an adjective meaning “exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical.” Which is pretty much what the good Don is tragically all about. The LEC did not touch his other work, but two incredible productions of his iconic fiction is certainly a testament to its quality.

This edition is all about Spain, which is fitting given its author’s Spanish roots. It was designed, printed and illustrated in Spain on Spanish paper; only the binding was handled in the United States. The art for this edition was by wood engraver Enric-Cristobal Ricart, a well regarded artist in his home country. Ricart would make one more stop in the annals of the George Macy Company with his contribution to the LEC Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra a few years later. He is also known as Enric Cristòfol Ricart, which seems the more popular search term online. He passed away in 1960.

Design Notes: From the Quarto-Millenary:

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Slipcase

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Spines

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As noted, John Ormsby serves as the translator and also introduces this edition.

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Colophon – This is #1384 of 1500 with Ricart’s signature.

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

Personal Notes – Not too long after acquiring the later LEC, I was offered the opportunity to purchase the original edition from a Devotee, NYCFAddict (who I got quite the haul from last year!). This is a really nice copy; many of the sheets to protect the pages from the illustrations bleeding are still inside!

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1950)
LEC #209, 20th Series, V. 1
Artwork: Illustrations by Edy Legrand
Translated by John Ormsby, Introduced by Irwin Edman
Heritage Press reprinted this in 1951; see below for this edition.
#893 of 1500

Click images for larger views.

In 1945, long time George Macy Company 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 for the Heritage edition 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, submitted five years later. This would be the last time Cervantes would be printed by the LEC or Heritage Press.

Legrand’s drawings feature color in the LEC edition; as you’ll see below, the Heritage went grayscale with their reproductions.

Design Notes: From the Quarto-Millenary:

A curio: Macy says that this edition of Quixote features the “self-same text” from the 1933 publication, which is true — translator John Ormsby served as the translator for both, although Ormsby introduced the original printing, which he does not perform here (a preface is included to his translation here). However, Harry Block did reinvent the typography and formatting, so it is not a mirror image of the earlier 1933 book…not to mention the switch from Ricart to Legrand on the illustration front.

Cervantes’ native Spain was apparently not an option for this edition (the 1933 edition was at Oliva de Vilanova in Barcelona), which is a bit of a shame, but Macy felt Mexico was a solid enough alternative.  The Heritage had the prints sent to the Meriden Gravure Company.

Slipcase

Spines

As noted, Ormsby returned as the translator for the text, but a new introduction was written by Irwin Edman for this edition. Legrand’s striking portrait of its protagonist greets the reader upon opening. Ormsby 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 continue with Ormsby.

Colophon – This is #893 of 1500. Legrand’s signature is notably absent here — there was a run of books where he was unable to provide his signature. This may have been due to his choice to live in Morocco for an extended period during the 1940s and 50s, likely to escape the chaos of Europe in the midst of war. Twenty Years After may be the first LEC he did actually sign, which was issued in 1958.

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

Personal Notes – I’d spent YEARS looking for a good copy of Quixote. The Heritage below I picked up about five years ago, but the LEC recently came into my possession courtesy of my book benefactor sharing it with me to document here and give a good home. I’m very happy to have this one in my collection!

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.

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Front Binding – Now for the Heritage edition, which is very nicely presented as well.

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), 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!

Of course, the nearly eight hundred pages likely refers to the LEC page count; the reduction to a single volume likely trimmed a fair amount of extra pages.

Design Notes – As noted above, 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 for its printing. 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 is from Italy.

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Title Page – Pretty close to the LEC edition!

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

Personal Notes – Before this copy came into my life, I’d not had the greatest luck acquiring this book. The two copies I saw before this one were in horrendous condition and curiously overpriced. Luckily, I came across this one around 2013 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. Of course, with the LEC now in my possession, I will be passing this along.

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

Updated 7/17/2021 ~ JF