1654 Commentary on “The Shakespeare of the Mancha”
Pleasant Notes upon Don Quixot.
London: William Hunt, 1654.
First edition. Woodcut initials, head-and tail-pieces. , 136, 139-290 pp. π1 [*]4, [**]2; B-2O4. 1 vols. Folio. 1654 Commentary on “The Shakespeare of the Mancha”. Modern full brown calf in the style of the period, raised bands. Occasional foxing or browning; small tear from lower corner of D1, not affecting text. An very attractive copy, handsomely bound Wing G415; ESTC R7599. Item #246292
First edition of this commentary on Cervantes, with three early references to Shakespeare. Gayton's Pleasant Notes Upon Don Quixote constantly departs from its ostensible subject to introduce colorful anecdotes of contemporary London. One of the “Sons of Ben,” the group of poets and playwrights that gathered around Ben Jonson, Gayton was well-informed about the playwrights of his day.
The book is especially valued as an early source of three early references to Shakespeare. Shakespeare is named in a list of admirable English writers on p. 21; on p. 95, Don Quixote is called "The Shake-speare of the Mancha"; and on p. 150, in a discussion of poets and mistresses, includes Shakespeare among those English poets who amorous inclinations were restrained by matrimony: “Our Naton also hath had its Poets, and they their wives: To passe the Bards: Sir Jeffery Chaucer liv’d very honestly at Woodstock, with his lady … and wrote against the vice most wittily, which Wedlock restrains. My Father Ben [Jonson] begate sonnes and daughters; so did Spencer, Drayton, Shakespeare …”
The English translation of the first part of Don Quixote (by Thomas Shelton) appeared in 1612; the second part, also by Shelton, in 1620. Shakespeare died in 1616, and the first edition of his collected plays appeared in 1623.
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