07 February 2005

Cervantes comes to light

A rare first edition of Miguel de Cervantes' "Don Quixote", published 400 years ago, has been unearthed in Spain...

A group of experts are investigating whether the tome, found near the southern city of Murcia, is a first edition from 1605.

Only 18 are known to exist worldwide, four of them in Spain.

With Spain holding a range of nationwide celebrations to mark four centuries since the country's most famous literary work appeared the book, if its origin is confirmed, would be more than its weight in gold.

The tome emerged when the hamlet of Alhama organised a Quixote exhibition, calling on local children to bring a copy from their parents' collection.

One child brought along an edition explaining it was a family heirloom which had belonged to an ancestor who lived in Cuba.

José Calero Heras, a professor of literature, told Spanish broadcaster TVE that the first page contained several first edition characteristics, including a dedication to the Duke of Bejar, a descendant of the royal family of the ancient kingdom of Navarra.

A phrase, in Latin, reads: "after the shadows I await the light."

A Spanish national library commission is to examine the paper, ink and printing techniques used before pronouncing whether they believe the volume is indeed a first edition.

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