Brussels, Roger Velpio et Huberto Antonio, 1614.
8vo [172 x 105 mm] of (8) ll., 616 pp., small waterstain in the lower margin of about ten ll. Ivory limp vellum, flat spine, remains of ties, small loss at the bottom of the second cover. Contemporary binding.
Precious and rare fourth edition of the Novelas exemplares, dedicated to the earl of Lemos, governor of the Kingdom of Naples. The first one had been published in Madrid the previous year.
First edition published out of Spain.
Written between the first and the second part of Don Quixote, the Novelas exemplares represent the most achieved monument of Cervantes’ narrative work.
The collection is composed of 12 short stories: “La jitanilla”, “El amante liberal”, “Rinconete y Cortadillo”, “La espagnola inglesa”, “El licenciado Vidriera”, “La fuerza de la sangre”, “La ilustre fregona”, “Las dos doncellas”, “La senora Cornelia”, “El casamiento enganoso”, “Coloquio de los perros”, “La tia fingida”.
All those Novelas or moral tales paint a broad achieved picture of the Spanish society like a savoir-vivre handbook, embroidered with the rare pearls that are the « entremeses », sort of skillfully wrapped up sketches evoking with a strange psychological echo and a bitter joy a society in dissolution.
“The conventional framework of the Italian short novel is broken here – to reach an interior aesthetic balance which does not depend anymore on fix and apparent rules. Cervantes starts from the tradition in order to pick, beyond any convention, the aspects of this humanity that became agitated on the squares and in the streets of the contemporary Spain. He comes to this result by the use of entirely new aesthetic processes of which he is the initiator; thanks to a tight and vivid dialogue, the account progresses, expressing faithfully the psychological evolution of the characters; the painting is sober, accurate; the style brilliant and precise; life reflects in it in its multiple aspects, by turns tragic and comic; in some tales where life elementary instincts face each other – and that are among the best, – we are the witnesses of the birth of a drastic yet never vulgar poetry; because if nothing escapes to the penetrating gaze of the author, nothing neither is evoked with bitterness: there is constantly this ironic smile, slightly resigned, and considerate in the end, where is expressed an unfortunate love though caring for men .”
The rarity of the first editions of Cervantes’ Novelas is legendary and rightfully pointed out by all the bibliographers.
Brunet therefore mentions that in 1828, Salva only knew one copy in Spain of the first edition of 1613. The bibliographer only mentions 2 additional copies.
The second edition is seen “as almost as rare and sought-after as the first one”.
The third one printed in Pamplona in 1614 presents the same rarity.
Brunet then lists our edition printed in Brussels in 1614 and only lists 2 copies: the ones of the libraries Hibbert and Heber.
Precious and beautiful copy of this early edition of Cervantes’ novels, extremely rare and with an attractive and unique contemporary binding bearing the capital letters « V » at the bottom of the front cover and « L. D. B. » at the foot of the back cover.