Sunday, July 29, 2018

Man of La Mancha: To Dream the Impossible Dream

I've discovered another site online that uses my scholarly findings, this time my reading of Don Quixote's relevance to a critical reading of Miguel de Luna's History of the Conquest of Spain by the Moors, and I've red-fonted the specific words:
21. LUNA, Miguel de. The History of the Conquest of Spain by the Moors. Together with the Life of the most illustrious Monarch Almanzor. And of the several Revolutions of the mighty Empire of the Caliphs, and of the African Kingdoms. Composed in Arabick by Abulcacim Tariff Abentariq, one of the Generals in that Spanish Expedition; and translated into Spanish by Michael de Luna, Interpreter to Philip the Second. Now made English. London, Printed by F. Leach, for S. H. and are to be sold by T. Fox . . . 1687.
8vo, pp. [32], 237, [1]; occasional soiling, title partly overlaid at extreme inner margin by a stub (of another title-page?), small marginal tear to a6, not affecting text; early nineteenth-century polished calf, red morocco label, top joint cracking; Ditton Park bookplate (Montagu-Douglas) with library shelf-marks; a very good copy. £2250
First edition of this translation of the first part of Luna’s Verdadera historia del rey Don Rodrigo (Granada, 1592-1600), itself purportedly translated from an Arabic source, but in fact an original composition. This is the issue with S.H. in the imprint, no licence on the verso of the title-page, and the dedicatory epistle signed with initials 'M. T.' rather than 'Matt. Taubman', presumably the City poet.

Luna's account of the Arabic conquest of Spain to the year 761 was considered genuine by Southey, dismissed by Ticknor and other scholars as a forgery, but now appreciated as an important, essentially literary document from the age of Cervantes, who knew the work. The Verdadera historia and Don Quixote 'abound with the same phrases and diction', and Cervantes specifically ridicules a passage in Luna in which Tariff fulfils a prophecy by the presence of a mole on his back – Quixote strips to reveal his mole as evidence of his strength in Part I Chapter 30 (see Horace Jeffrey (sic. Jeffery) Hodges, 'Holey Moley: Don Quixote's significant Señal', Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 29:2, 2009). 'Great inspiration for Cervantes came from this type of "true" history"' (sic. history') (ibid., 22:2, 2002, p. 20).

The narrative concludes 'The End of the First Part'; the second, which is promised in 'The Publisher to the Reader' and was to include a 'Dissertation' by the translator, never appeared. A different translation of selections of the work was published in 1627, under the title Almanasor, the Learned and Victorious King that Conquered Spaine. ESTC finds 8 copies of the present issue in the U.K. and four in North America (Boston Public, Folger, Huntington, and Clark), and only four copies altogether of the other issue (Christ Church, NYPL (2), and Newberry). The same sheets were reissued in 1693 but with fewer prelims (pp. 26, probably omitting the epistle dedicatory to James Fitz-James, Duke of Berwick, the illegitimate son of James II). Wing L 3484A.
This site is named after a long-deceased, but very important 19th-century bookseller, Bernard Quaritch, specializing in rare books, in this case, Hispanica, "a short selection of early Spanish books."

Thanks to all at Bernard Quaritch for noticing me and my work, back in 2014!



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