ELIZABETHAN ROMANCES, WRONGLY ASCRIBED TO CERVANTES

The Troublesome and Hard Adventures in Love. Lively setting forth, the Feavers, the Dangers, and the Jealousies of Lovers; and the Labyrinths and Wildernesses of Fears and Hopes through which they dayly Passe. Illustrated by many admirable Patterns of heroical Resolutions in some persons of Chivalry and Honour; and by the Examples of incomparable Perfections in some Ladies ... Written in Spanish, by that excellent and famous Gentleman, Michael Cervantes; and exactly translated into English, by R.C. Gent.

London, Printed by B. Alsop ... 1652 [but 1651].

4to, pp. [280]; with the initial leaf A1 (blank except for the signature within a woodcut border); a very good copy in modern crushed maroon morocco, spine lettered directly in gilt; engraved armorial bookplate of Charles Viscount Bruce of Amthill (dated 1712) to title verso.

£7500

Approximately:
US $9415€8777

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The Troublesome and Hard Adventures in Love. Lively setting forth, the Feavers, the Dangers, and the Jealousies of Lovers; and the Labyrinths and Wildernesses of Fears and Hopes through which they dayly Passe. Illustrated by many admirable Patterns of heroical Resolutions in some persons of Chivalry and Honour; and by the Examples of incomparable Perfections in some Ladies ... Written in Spanish, by that excellent and famous Gentleman, Michael Cervantes; and exactly translated into English, by R.C. Gent.

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The rare second edition of a text of 1594 known in a single imperfect copy (STC 153.3).

The earlier publication, not ascribed to any author but also translated by ‘R.C.’, is largely adapted from a French translation (Paris, 1578–1587) of Jorge de Montemayor’s pastoral romance Diana (Valencia, [1559]), and Gaspar Gil Polo’s continuation, Diana Enamorada (Valencia, 1564). The text of the present item is identical to that of 1594, but the preliminary pages (including a dedicatory epistle also signed ‘R.C.’) are new. The new title-page ascribes the work to Cervantes, possibly by mistake but more probably for commercial benefit, and this 1652 edition of The Troublesome and Hard Adventures in Love is by a margin of several decades the earliest English book not by Cervantes to bear, for whatever reason, his name.

The plot of The Two Gentlemen of Verona also derives ultimately from Montemayor, and it is thought to have reached Shakespeare via either the French Diana of which this is an adaptation, or Bartholemew Young’s 1598 translation thereof (putatively seen by Shakespeare in manuscript several years prior to publication). The Troublesome and Hard Adventures in Love, therefore, is a fascinating, and exactly contemporary, analogue in prose fiction of Shakespeare’s dramatic reworkings from the same original.

‘R.C.’ is not, as has been suggested, R. Codrington, for he, though alive and vigorously translating in 1652, had not been born in 1594. Ralph Carr, translator of The Mahumetane or Turkish Historie (1600), is a possibility; there is a rather exotic connection in that The Troublesome and Hard Adventures in Love was entered into the Stationers’ register as having been ‘written in Turkey’.

ESTC records two copies in the UK (BL and Bodley); and six in the US (Boston Public Library, Folger, Harvard, Huntington, Newberry, and Yale).

Wing C1781; Palau 54045; Grolier, Wither to Prior 184; Kenneth Muir, The Sources of Shakespeare’s Plays (London, 1977).

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