First editions of Cervantes’ Don Quixote among NSK treasures
Priceless resources preserved in the Manuscripts and Old Books Collection of the National and University Library in Zagreb include valuable copies of the first editions of Don Quixote, or The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de La Mancha, one of the most widely read classics of Western literature.
Written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547 – 1616), undoubtedly the most well-known Spanish writer, this masterpiece was first published in 1605, and got its sequel in 1615. Conceived as a comic satire of then popular chivalric romances, it struck a chord with the reading public of that time, so in little more than half a year since its publication it got its two Madrid editions, one edition published in Valencia and another in Lisbon. It was soon translated into French, German and Italian, while its first English translation appeared in 1612.
Its Croatian translation, which is considered to be one of the best translations of literary works into Croatian, was first done by Iso Velikanović and published in 1915. This translation was later edited and extended by Josip Tabak and published in 1951.
Cervantes, the 400th anniversary of whose death we are marking this year, a kind of a Don Quixote himself, created a magnificent work that will forever stand as both a comic and tragic symbol of the eternal human struggle between ideals and reality.