Academic journal article Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America

The Grangerized Copy of John Bowle's Edition of Don Quixote at the Cushing Memorial Library, Texas A&M University

Academic journal article Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America

The Grangerized Copy of John Bowle's Edition of Don Quixote at the Cushing Memorial Library, Texas A&M University

Article excerpt

The Cushing Library of Texas A&M University recently acquired at auction for its Cervantes collection a copy of the rare and influential edition of Don Quixote prepared by the Reverend John Bowle and published in 1781, in three beautifully bound volumes. (1) Bowle's edition marks the beginning of serious Cervantine scholarship, and constitutes a landmark in the textual and critical history of Don Quixote for several reasons. It was the first extensively annotated edition published anywhere, produced after more than ten years of careful study and extensive readings of Cervantes' chivalric, classical, and Italian sources, and incorporated the results of the first significant attempt to collate several editions of the novel in order to identify textual variants and emend possible errors. Furthermore, Bowle's edition greatly contributed to the establishment of Don Quixote as a literary classic, a text now deserving and requiring a set of critical annotations and commentary in order to comprehend its complex allusions and meanings. Finally, Bowle's annotations soon became the obligatory starting point for all subsequent annotated editions and have been frequently borrowed by other editors, most often without attribution. (2)

The Cushing's copy, in its original binding (3) and in almost perfect condition, constitutes a unique grangerized edition. (4) It includes several large, high-quality engravings which have been folded, pasted, and inserted in various places throughout the three volumes. These engravings number fifteen in total, do not form a series, are not homogeneous in size, and appear to proceed from at least six different published sources. Most include in their captions information about the author and engraver, but some do not.

At least eleven are engravings after the designs of the famous French court painter Charles Antoine Coypel (1694-1752), (5) whom around 1714 was commissioned to create twenty-eight drawings on stout paper or cartoons from which to produce a series of tapestries based on Don Quixote. (6) The tapestries were manufactured at the famous Gobelins' factory, and all of the surviving cartoons now hang in the Chateau of Compiegne. (7) Coypel's paintings depict a rather fanciful interpretation of the characters, episodes, and adventures of Don Quixote, taking place in an elegant baroque Versaillesque setting, reminiscent more of an eighteenth-century salon than of La Mancha's austere landscape. Nevertheless, because of their artistry and dramatic qualities they became immensely popular, were copied and engraved many times, and were included as illustrations in numerous editions of Cervantes' masterpiece during the 1700s.

Coypel's designs were first engraved in copper and published in Paris in 1724. (8) Thus, twenty-two engravings, although not all after Coypel, appeared in a large folio album under the title Les aventures de Don Quichotte de Cervantes peintees par C. Coypel, Boucher et Nic Cochin, gravees par MM. Surugue, Cochin, Ravenet. (9) Twenty-two years later, Pierre de Hondt published in The Hague another collection of the engravings, this time accompanied by brief explanatory selections from Cervantes' work, under the title Les principales avantures [sic] de l'admirable Don Quichotte, representees en figures par Coypel, Picart le Romain et autres habiles maitres avec les explications des XXXI planches de cette magnifique collection, tirees de l'original espagnol de Miguel de Cervantes. (10) The engravers this time were Bernard Picart, J. V. Schley, P. Tanje, and S. Fokke, but only twenty-five of the thirty-one plates included were by Coypel. (11) Other similar collections containing an abbreviated text suited to the subject matter of the engravings were printed in The Hague (1746, in Dutch), London (1775), Liege (1776), and Brussels (1795), all in large quarto volumes. (12)

Coypel's original cartoons were repeatedly copied and included as small size illustrations in many eighteenth-century editions of Don Quixote. …

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