“Don Quixote” illustrated by Savva Brodsky in search of chivalrous ideals

“Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”

Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes’s “Don Quixote” (published in two parts in 1605 and 1615) is widely regarded as a canonical text in modern literature and often referred to as Europe’s first modern novel and one of the greatest ever written. There is also a view that it is the most translated book in the world after the Bible.

Its main characters, the delusional noble caballero andante (knight errant) from La Mancha and his witty squire, peasant farmer Sancho Panza, have become household names. “Don Quixote” has influenced literary genius writers from Dumas and Twain to philosopher Schopenhauer, just to name a few.

This sumptuous 2 volume edition is the Russian translation, illustrated by Savva Brodsky, published by “Rech” (St Petersburg-Moscow) in 2018.

Savva Brodsky (1923-1982) was an acclaimed Soviet artist, illustrator, architect, sculptor and poet. Jack of all trades and a master at it all, he eventually developed a particular interest in book illustration and from the early 1960s this became a focal pursuit for the remainder of his life. He illustrated numerous books including multi-volume editions of Grin, Theodore Dreiser, Guy de Maupassant and Gustave Flaubert.

Brodsky’s illustrations for “Don Quixote” are widely recognised as the pinnacle of his artistic output. It was awarded the gold medal in the International Exhibition of Illustration Art in Moscow in 1975. Brodsky was loved in Spain, where he was made an honourable academic of the Spanish Academy of Fine Arts in San Fernando and had a solo exhibition in Madrid in 1977. The latter being during the “Cold War” / ‘Iron Curtain’ Soviet years was quite remarkable. His “Don Quixote” illustrations were last exhibited in the Cervantes Institute in 2003, after which the artworks were returned to Russia.

The originals of Savva Brodsky’s Quixote works are kept in Serpukhov Art Museum in Russia (on my “to-visit” list). The originals were executed on thin plastic using the scratchboard technique. For this 2018  “Rech” editions the originals were digitised anew. The only previous (known to me) edition of Quixote with Savva Brodsky’s art was published in 1975 to 1976 by “Molodaya Gvardia”. The quality of illustrations in these earlier editions was considered to have failed at giving justice to the originals. Savva Brodsky has been criticised for not taking into consideration the printing possibilities of the times while producing his Quixote illustrations.

Volume 1 and 2 (about 500 pages each) are accompanied by comments from a scholar on Quixote and a great article by Savva Brodsky titled “If it was not for Don Quixotes of the world the humanity would have never left the caves”

Here are some quotes from this timeless piece of literature to inspire you and the young adult readers around you to read or re-read it.

"Don Quixote” illustrated by Savva Brodsky in search of chivalrous ideals Illustrated Classics, Young Adult Fiction Home Library Essentials don quixote vol 2 savva brodsky 16

“The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.

“Hunger is the best sauce in the world.”

“There is no book so bad…that it does not have something good in it.”

“There were no embraces, because where there is great love there is often little display of it.”

“For neither good nor evil can last for ever; and so it follows that as evil has lasted a long time, good must now be close at hand.”

“Until death it is all life”…

Let’s live it to its fullest then.

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Lux
Lux
2 years ago

What an interesting review!

And the illustrations are so brilliant that I would buy this book, even if it were in Mandarin!

“Savva Brodsky has been criticised for not taking into consideration the printing possibilities of the times while producing his Quixote illustrations” – Really??? They criticized *him* for their own shortcomings??

Jettie H. van den Boom
Jettie H. van den Boom
1 year ago

1)      Miguel de Cervantes’s “Don Quixote”, you write.. but that’s outdated, in 2015 I have published my book ( now translated in English: the deciphering of the Don Quixote & the unmasking of Avellaneda, 2022) in which I show with more than 88 proofs that a Spaniard did not write this masterpiece, but the English.You can read: The original “Don Quixote” is an English book. The Spanish translations appeared in 1605 and 1615, much earlier than the original English publications in 1612 and 1620. Between these two periods, in 1614, a “false” Don Quixote was published under the name Avellaneda. The original English text was never released.
 
Francis Bacon was the brain behind the three books of Don Quixote; he wrote the part of the hero.
Ben Jonson took on the role of Sancho Panza, John Donne wrote the poems, “the two friends” Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher were assigned the task of writing loose stories.  These authors made use of the library owned by Robert Cotton.
The printer, William Stansby, inserted concealed clues into the text, in order for the reader to be able to draw conclusions…
 
The Spanish translations were carried out by Thomas Shelton (DQI + DQII) and James Mabbe  (the “bogus” DQ).
Miguel de Cervantes was just a poor Spanish writer who had sold his name to survive. He had told his life-story to the English, so that it could be processed into the DQ. 
Ten people, sworn to secrecy about their collaboration in the writing of Don Quixote. Now in this book, after four hundred years, clarity is given as to the “who”, “what” and “why” of all this secrecy.
2)      “There is also a view that it is the most translated book in the world after the Bible,” you say.. and that’s right, but why translate from a translation? The English edition is the original!
3)     “ (knight errant) from La Mancha” you write.. but please.. that region was not yet established in Spain.. Nowhere in the whole 3 books there is mention of La Mancha.. but of the Mancha or in Spanish la Mancha.. the spot, the dirty mark.. Manχa was the word in Arabic for dry fields of grass.. and the third explanation.. ( every name is important) the canal, the Manche, between England and France is the third explanation. So Don Quixote is the knight of the land and of the sea!

But the drawings are amazing!!
Thank you!!

Jettie h. van den Boom
Jettie h. van den Boom
1 year ago

I can send you a pdf….just send your email to my email

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