Stock, Women & Writing

De Geestelyke Don Quichot, of het Zomer-Reisje van Geoffroy Wildgoose; door Smollet. Uit het Engelsch vertaald, door E. Bekker…

WOLFF, Elizabeth 'Betje' (ed. and trans.) / SMOLLETT, Tobias
The Hague, Isaac van Cleef
US$ 1,250.00
AN ENGLISH SATIRE ON CERVANTES, TRANSLATED WITH A PREFACE BY ELIZABETH WOLFF. Large 8vo [21.2 x 12.5 cm], 3 parts in 1. (5), VIII-XXVIII pp, 262 pp; (4), 216 pp; (4), 254 pp. Bound in late 19th century half brown cloth over marbled boards with title lettered on spine. A neat, crisp copy. With all half-titles and title-pages as called for, but lacking initial blank *1 in Part I. Rare sole edition of this Dutch edition of Richard Graves’ elaborate satire The Spiritual Quixote, or the Summer's Ramble of Mr. Geoffry Wildgoose (1773), translated with a lengthy critical preface by Elizabeth (‘Betje’) Bekker Wolff (1738-1804). De Geestelyke Don Quichot ridicules both Cervantes and his hero as well as the peculiarly English phenomenon of fanatical Methodist preachers who set out blindly into the world; both of these themes seem to have a struck a cord with Wolff, whose 10-page preface comments on the wild popularity of the novel in England, and dissects the minutiae of its plot and characters. Curiously, Wolff’s title-page and preface betray no doubt that The Spiritual Quixote is the work of Tobias Smollett (1721-1771). Smollett had produced a well-regarded English translation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote in 1755, perhaps adding to the confusion; in addition, all five early English editions of The Spiritual Quixote had preserved Graves’ anonymity. In conscious imitation of the lives of John Wesley and George Whitfield, Geoffrey Wildgoose is an Oxford-educated, well-to-do young man who involves himself in a petulant argument with his local Church of England vicar, and turns to Non-Conformist spiritualism instead. Invoking the adventures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Wildgoose befriends a local cobbler, Jerry, whom he convinces to accompany him on a deranged missionary journey around southern England. The novel is also filled with absurd conceits, such as the ‘author’s dedication’ of the novel to ‘Monsieur Pattypan, Pastry-Cook to His most Sacred Majesty King George II’ – all of which are faithfully reproduced by Wolff. In 1777, upon the death of her much older husband, Betje took up residence with her fellow-writer Agatha ‘Aagje’ Deken (1741-1804). Together, they began to write epistolary novels in the style of Samuel Richardson.  “Betje Wolff and Aagje Deken were the most famous Dutch female romantic friends of the eighteenth century… ‘Kindred spirits’ like Wolff and Deken were criticized and ridiculed by male contemporaries not because of their same-sex relationship, but because of the fact that as ‘savantes,’ or learned women, they entered the male territory of scholarship and intellectualism.” (Summers, The Gay & Lesbian Literary Heritage). OCLC shows just two copies outside of the Netherlands, at the British Library and Rice University (TX). An earlier work, De geestelyke Don Quichot of De Spaansche doolende ridder van de H. Maagd, Don Ignatius de Lojola (1767), is an unrelated work. * Buijnsters, Wolff & Deken: een biografie (1984), p. 314; Hill, The Literary Career of Richard Graves, p. 74.