- The Eduardo Urbina Cervantes Collection in the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University Libraries
This catalogue serves as a physical volume introducing the scholar and student to the vast resources available through the Eduardo Urbina Cervantes Collection held at Texas A&M University as well as the digital archive associated with it. In 2001 Urbina started the Cervantes Project, a long-term effort to create a digital archive based on the collection of books housed at the Cushing Memorial Library at Texas A&M University to which this catalogue presents both a visually attractive and a useful scholarly introduction. At the time of the printing of the book, the digital archive contained over 30,000 images, although at this date it now contains well over 50,000 (http://cervantes.tamu.edu). With the support of a major grant from the United States National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as further funding from Texas A&M University and the Cátedra Cervantes of the Universidad Castilla-La Mancha (Spain), Urbina gathered together a team of Cervantes scholars, art historians, computer scientists, and librarians.
As a result, a new standard has been set for the cataloguing and archiving of illustrations that respects both the artistic and literary nature of the works themselves as literary illustrations. That is to say, they are created and exist in a web of relations: in relation to the original literary text (in this case, Cervantes’s Don Quijote), in relation to each other as a visual narrative, in relation to other visual images, and in relation to the book itself as a unit. In their creation of the digital archive, the team has respected the visual images as works of art in which various artists often participated, including those who designed the images as well as engravers or lithographers. The collaborators have taken care to catalogue the specific visual medium in which each illustration was undertaken, as well as the dimensions and color. In addition, they have given equal importance to the relation of the illustration to the literary text by indicating in every case in which chapter the illustration is located. When title captions are actually printed with the illustrations, the archive [End Page 187] entries include them word for word. Likewise, the fact that the illustrations themselves form a narrative is also duly noted, such that one can locate the position of each illustration within its respective series within the edition. The team has also acknowledged the place of the illustration within the book as a printed object. Illustration types—that is to say, headpieces, full-page illustrations, maps, etc.—are indicated. The comments about the illustrations are generous in reference to scholarly assessments of artists, whereas the descriptive section about each edition includes important information about physical attributes of the tomes as well as whether the illustrations or paratextual apparatuses might have appeared elsewhere. Scholars and students alike will find the database to be very accessible, given that images can be located via a variety of limiting factors, such as date and place of publication, chapter, techniques, the sizes of volumes, colors, and illustration types. To find specific artists, one need only enter the name in the general search box. The database also now references editions held at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Hamburg Staatsbibliothek, and the Library of Congress. Moreover, the website has links to other digital archives as well as an electronic variorum edition of Don Quijote.
The published volume stands as a welcome physical invitation to the Cervantes Project. It contains bibliographical descriptions of major Don Quijote editions, as well as other works penned by Cervantes, from a variety of languages including Polish, Arabic, Chinese, and Yiddish, in addition to important biographies and works of scholarly criticism. Illustrations from the editions as well as frontispieces of some of the scholarly works liberally grace the pages, granting the reader a glimpse into some of the imagery held in the archives. The...