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Don Quixote

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Oct 6, 2019, 12:37pm

Torn between Arion Press' Don Quixote, Folio's LE, and the Easton Press edition with the Doré illustrations.

Would appreciate your thoughts and input!

Edited: Oct 6, 2019, 1:02pm

No brainer.

The Edith Grossman modern English translation is so far superior to earlier (antiquated) translations that the Arion Press edition would be (and it is - I own it) my pick. Additionally, the copious William T. Wiley illustrations which are playful and slyly humorous, are very appropriate for Don Quixote. None of the other private press editions use the Edith Grossman translation.

Edited: Oct 6, 2019, 1:27pm

The Arion Press comes at a hefty price; it's a beautiful book but personally I find the illustrations dry (but that's me; I'm usually not impressed by AP illustrations). The Doré illustrations are my favourite of the three; EP uses the Ormsby translation (sorry I edited cause I thought it was the archaic 1742 translation). You can search here at LT for threads on the Smollett (FS) and Grossman (AP; the most modern of the three) translations both which seem to be generally respected and recommended.

EDIT: Sorry for misleading the EP actually uses the Ormsby translation. You can check it out here

Edited: Oct 6, 2019, 2:53pm

Additional thoughts and comments:

1. I do not find the Tobias Smollett 18th century English translation used in the deluxe Folio Society edition anywhere near as effective as Edith Grossman's translation from 2003. It still has an antiquated feel to me upon reading it. The NY Times discussed this topic in 2003 after the initial publication of Edith Grossman's translation by Harper Collins.

2. Although the Arion Press edition is quite pricey - $4,000. for the 2-volume set if purchased directly from the Arion Press, it is widely discounted by fine booksellers. At present Swan's Fine Books is offering a flawless set at a considerable discount of $2,500. While still far more expensive than the deluxe FS edition, it still bears consideration.

3. Following the retirement of Arion Press founder Andrew Hoyem, the Arion Press website has been extensively revised and is far more informative. Specifically, an extensive sampling of the William T. Wiley illustrations from their edition of Don Quixote can now be seen on their website for you to assess. (links below).

Oct 6, 2019, 2:29pm

IMO the Grossman translation is so much better that if you're looking for a 'deluxe' edition of Don Quixote, the Arion is the only way to go. Which is why I don't have a nice edition of Don Quixote 😅

Oct 6, 2019, 3:30pm


Are neither of the two Limited Editions Club Don Quixotes in the running?

Oct 6, 2019, 5:21pm

>4 dlphcoracl: Don't tell people about Swan's having it for 2500! I'm biding my time (and dollars) to pick that up in a few months! :)

>1 RATBAG.: There is no comparison. The AP edition stands head and shoulders above all the others. Second for me would be the LEC club editions. I like the art and binding more in the 1950 edition. That is really a matter of taste however. I would strongly recommend picking up either of these editions over the Easton or Folio editions if the AP edition is out of your price range.

Oct 7, 2019, 3:46am

>7 Sorion: No worries, you just might beat me to Swan's, haha.

Thanks for that, AP seems like the way to go! :)

>3 clymbouris: Thank you for the in-depth comparison, I really appreciate it! Translation was never really a factor I had considered when contemplating world literature.

>4 dlphcoracl: And thank you for the heads up on Swan!!

Oct 7, 2019, 3:46am

Ok, here's another: Frankenstein.

AP or Thornwillow?

Oct 7, 2019, 3:57am

>9 RATBAG.: Not to sound like a broken record but again there is no comparison. Thornwillow’s edition can’t compare on any level from press work to art. Unless you want a leather binding. The art in the TW edition in my very biased opinion is cartoonish at the very best. It really feels like something my kid could have done. The AP edition art is very interesting but again subject to taste. I love it and own it.

As far as press work goes Thornwillow, whom I regularly subscribe to on Kickstarter, cannot compare. AP is one of the two or three finest presses in the US.

I own the AP Frankenstein as I mentioned and I love it. It’s just so well conceived form slipcase to binding and cover art to interior art and printing. It’s also only a few hundred dollars more then the TW Half Leather edition with a smaller limitation(I believe) and will hold more value on the aftermarket. Though not it’s original value as few ever do.

Oct 7, 2019, 4:21am

>10 Sorion: Interesting. Was leaning towards Thornwillow as how they have marketed themselves and their publications through kickstarter is quite appealing. I completely agree on the art style; it does not complement the book at ALL. Embarrassing choice, to say the least.

That settles it then, I suppose.

My first AP will either be Frankenstein or DQ.

Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 5:06am


If I really had to find a nice but not letterpress edition, I would try to hunt a copy of the Barry Moser illustrated Pennyroyal edition, or in a more budget friendly manner, buy one of the Universty of California reprint and have it rebinded in half cloth with a few custom details.

Oct 7, 2019, 5:30am

I think Frankenstein is a fairly silly book and much prefer the Thornwillow take to more traditional illustrations ;)

Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 9:02am

The Thornwillow Press illustrations are amateurish and exclude it from consideration. Perhaps as important is which edition a given private press chooses - the original edition published in 1818 or the revised edition of 1831. For me, the earlier 1818 edition is far superior and I considered it a "must" in selection of my copy. Unfortunately, the vast majority of fine & private press editions use the 1831 edition, including the recent Arion Press publication. Excluding the Thornwillow edition, the only private press edition of note that uses the earlier 1818 edition is the deluxe Pennyroyal Edition illustrated by Barry Moser, which is what I have chosen. It is extremely pricey nowadays and finding the Univ. of California trade edition (1984) may be the best compromise.

Oct 7, 2019, 10:00am

As far as DQ or Frankenstein are concerned, I think AP wins them hands down. I am fortunate to own both and love them so much that I consider them amongst the top ten books that I do own (and I have a huge collection).

IMHO, none of Thornwillow's published books have really cut the ice for me. They may be letterpress but I dont consider any of them aesthetically pleasing. The comparison between AP and TP is like heaven and hell.

Oct 7, 2019, 10:51am

>15 Neil77: Neil, I would LOVE to see your shelves.

Oct 7, 2019, 11:01am

>16 RATBAG.:

Sure - will try to do it one of these days. :-)

Oct 7, 2019, 9:38pm

>1 RATBAG.: I'm lucky to have all three of these, as well as the Ricart LEC from 1933. The first three a product of a former high-earning high-tech career and the last a gift from a book friend. I would definitely pick the AP edition for the translation and the presswork. But I would put those illustrations at #4 in my personal rankings. I think the Ricart are my favorite, or #1, for the editions I have. The Dore and the Blake in the middle. I've read the AP and the EP editions, but have yet to get to the LEC or FS. Because of my liking for the illustrations, I will read the LEC next...

Oct 8, 2019, 12:58am

I definitely prefer the Grossman translation. In my minds eye, I'll ditch my trade hardback for the AP edition some day. However, when push came to shove, I couldn't pull the trigger on buying the two volume set for $3400. For one, this is more money than I've ever paid for a book but more importantly, at this price point I was very disappointed with the AP presswork. Uneven printing abounds in the samples I looked at. I realize that they were printing a lot of pages but at this cost I'm expecting near perfection and the AP edition just doesn't deliver. I'll have to be satisfied with the seven editions of Don Quixote I own (6 different translations, 5 illustrators, includes both LECs and the FS edition).

Oct 9, 2019, 10:29pm

>18 jveezer: and >19 kdweber: seem to disagree with regard to the presswork of the AP edition. Interesting.

Oct 9, 2019, 10:35pm

>20 ultrarightist: Actually, >19 kdweber: is right, the presswork is uncharacteristically uneven on this edition. I had forgotten that. But still my #1. I love the binding and very sturdy slipcases as well.

Edited: Oct 9, 2019, 10:53pm

The Ultimate Don Quixote.

Oct 9, 2019, 10:57pm

>22 dlphcoracl: While undoubtedly beautiful it seems to violate one of your primary rules doesn’t it? That being that it’s almost unreadable due to the massive never ending block of text. It’s stunning but is it really viable as an edition one reads?

Edited: Oct 10, 2019, 4:30am

>23 Sorion:

The massive double-column block of text doesn't bother me in the slightest. The 17 x 13 inch size, 6 lb. weight and the antiquated early-17th century translation by Thomas Shelton are an entirely different matter, however. With regard to the quality of the handmade paper, the elegance of the type and the flawless letterpress printing, nothing comes close.

Sort of like saying: "Aside from THAT, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

Oct 10, 2019, 1:16am

>22 dlphcoracl: that Ashendene? Looks spectacular.

Oct 10, 2019, 1:54am

>25 ultrarightist:

Yes. That is the Ashendene Don Quixote.

Oct 10, 2019, 2:58am

It's too long since I read Don Quixote, in my 1927 "library binding" Everyman edition (Motteux' translation). The Shelton intrigues me, so I've placed an order for the two volume 1923 Navarre Society edition which uses it: and another for a four volume John Grant edition employing the Motteux, so as to put the two translators on a fairly even footing as regards the physical appeal of the books. Have also ordered a trade hardback of the Edith Grossman translation, which I'm expecting will be for occasional reference rather than reading. Total outlay rather less than I've saved by not buying the Folio Dracula LE, though there is the matter of coming up with a foot or so of shelf space.

Oct 10, 2019, 10:49pm

This thread has given me a lot of food for thought. I have never read Don Quixote but hope to tackle it before too long. The only edition I have which was passed down in the family uses the Thomas Shelton translation and is in four large volumes. I have been considering purchasing a "reading copy", and it sounds like Grossman is the translation to get. AP is way out of my price range, but it looks like a hardback edition is available for about $20.

Oct 11, 2019, 12:17pm

I strongly recommend the Grossman translation.

Oct 11, 2019, 3:00pm