Celebrate Cervantes


Over the 24 hours of World Book and Copyright Day ILAB will present the pictures of Cervantes editions on the ILAB Pop Up Book Fair Blog. We would love to feature your personal favourite Cervantes books too! 

Send us pictures of your favourite Cervantes book and celebrate with us! Email pictures to editor@ilab.org.


In 2016, the UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day will be celebrated for the 26th time on 23 April. This is a symbolic date for world literature. On this day in 1616 two of the world’s greatest men of literature died: William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Published in two volumes in 1605 and 1615, Cervantes’ El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha is considered one of the most influential works of literature. In fact, it is regarded as the first European novel, and its author is widely esteemed as the world's pre-eminent novelist. His influence on the Spanish language has been so great that the language is often called “la lengua de Cervantes”. Born in Alcalá de Henares near Madrid, Cervantes enlisted as a soldier in the Spanish Navy and continued his military life until 1575, when he was captured by pirates. After five years of captivity, he was released on payment of a ransom by his parents, and subsequently returned to Madrid where he worked as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada. Discrepancies in his accounts landed him in the Crown Jail of Seville, until the immediate success of the first part of his Don Quixote signalled his return to the literary world in 1605. During the last nine years of his life, Cervantes wrote, among others, the second part of Don Quixote in 1615. At that time he had already gained world renown. Cervantes had become immortal.


While ILAB booksellers gather across the world to celebrate UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day on 23 April 2016 with Pop Up fairs, lectures, exhibitions, and book parties at many busy and unexpected places, there will be a REALLY BIG event – the elegant, refined Parisian book fair held in the sophisticated surroundings of the Grand Palais. The International Rare Book & Autograph Fair, now in its 28th year, is one of the most prestigious fairs in the world, attracting nearly 200 exhibitors and over 20.000 visitors who enjoy the opportunity to browse, buy and admire more than 100.000 historical documents, rare books, manuscripts, autographs, prints and ephemera from all centuries. In 2016, this international high-class event becomes even greater as the French antiquarian booksellers will join in ILAB’s celebrations on UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day by granting free entry to the fair on Saturday, 23 April.
Inside the Grand Palais the French booksellers will celebrate Cervantes with an impressive exhibition. A selection of some of the rarest and most original documents from the personal collection of René Cluzel, a former member of SLAM, will honour the great Spanish author. The exhibition will include two of the oldest Don Quixote editions from the years 1607 and 1611, the first complete French translation published in 1622, the original Italian edition of the Novelas ejemplares printed in 1626, along with  illustrated English 18th century editions, the famous Ibarra edition from the year 1780, the most attractive 19th century illustrated editions by Doré, Johannot, Urrabieta Vierge as well as modern editions by Lemarié, Dubout and Dali. On show will also be unique copies, such as an unknown series of gouaches from the end of the 18th century, the handwritten model illustrated by Louis Icart which had never been published, next to plates from the Second Empire, glass plates painted for a magic lantern, bronze and wooden sculptures, puppets, comics, and many other rare items related to the life of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and his story of Don Quixote de la Mancha. The exhibition will be accompanied by a presentation “Cervantes and the Metamorphoses of Don Quixote” on Sunday 24 April at 3 pm by Jean Canavaggio, editor of Cervantes in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade.


Why such a fervour for Cervantes? At some time in our lives we have all met Don Quixote. We learn about his life and adventures in children’s books or at school, in movies, and most of all in printed books, many of them old and rare and beautifully illustrated, in all languages, in the original text or in contemporary adaptations. There is hardly a literary life without any notion of Don Quixote. That’s why Quixote and his creator Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra belong to the past, present and future of literacy more than any other author. Could there be a better reason to celebrate Cervantes on UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day 2016 as with a worldwide fundraising to support literacy?

Throughout the Parisian Book Fair and in solidarity with their French colleagues, ILAB President Norbert Donhofer, Michael Steinbach, and many other ILAB dealers will set up the ILAB/UNESCO Empty Bookshelf Posters in their own stands. From Paris to the world they join their colleagues at the numerous local ILAB Pop Up Fairs by raising funds for the UNESCO projects. Visitors at the International Rare Book & Autograph Fair in Paris and passers-by at the ILAB Pop Up Fairs across the world will have a wonderful opportunity to see an abundance of books and a rich diversity of Don Quixote editions.


For many years Austrian bookseller, ILAB Past President, now President of the Austrian Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (VAO) Michael Steinbach has been collecting rare and illustrated editions of Cervantes' Don Quixote, in all languages of the world, even in Japanese. On the occasion of World Book and Copyright Day 2016 and the 400th anniversary of Cervantes' death he sent us pictures of some highlights from his collection. Click here for a full list or simply enjoy the pictures.

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