Johan Dejager, the editor who ignored himself


Great Books on Horsemanship: this is the title of a unique book.
This baby weighs more than five kilos (5.2 kg)! This book is a monster. An extraordinary contribution to knowledge, history and memory…

Edited in the name of Johan Dejager, it is inspired by Koninlijke Brill-Hes & De Graaf, printed in Slovenia on a 150 gram paper, it offers 784 pages (230 x 320 mm), which most of us have never read, never seen, all under a hardcover, stored in a good quality box, for 175 euros.
Limited edition, obviously. Bingo!
It’s unique, that’s what they tell you.

Monster of rarity, monster of obstinacy, of originality, in summary, monster of passion. That of a Belgian rider who discovered, late in his life, when he had the means, a rather strong taste, so as to not call it excessive, for antique books, rare books, exclusives, and obviously related to his other passion, horses; which he experienced as a jockey, owner of a competition horse stable, and organizer of high level competitions (CSI5 Antwerp and Waregem today)

Once upon a time there was a book … 

If this rider had not existed, the flamenco Johan Dejager, there would be no books, especially not THIS book: Great Books on Horsemanship, compilation which although not exhaustive, is at least unique in regards to what took place on this matter during the XVI and XVII centuries. Initially, the book should have been called Great Authors on Horsemanship. “Because I wanted to take a trip back in time and present all the important authors, who wrote about horses, horse riding, veterinary science and cavalry; and this with the help of my book collection”, explains the interested party. More than three hundred and fifty in total, referenced first in chronological order and then according to geographical influences (Italy, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, England and France), all with a focus on the description of each book through a file, very complete and as rich as possible.

Johan Dejager explains that the book was completed in three phases and over a period of seven years. ” First, use all bibliographic records (identified in each purchase of books) in a large document that includes each author ‘s biography and bibliography in my library. Then, in a second stage, I searched and found a specialist in each country to order, complete and limit what was needed: Philippe Deblaise for France, Tim Clayton for England, Valentin Moreno for Spain, Carlos Pereira for Portugal, Mario Gennero for Italy, and Claudia Condry for Germany and the Netherlands.

Later, in order to further enrich the work, we turned to written essays on different topics by Elisabetta Deriu (An Art in Motion, The development and dissemination of equestrian knowledge in Europe (XVI-XVII centuries), Thierry d’Erceville (The development of the cavalry as shown in the Works of military equerries of the 17th and 18th centuries), Bernard Clerc (The development of equine medicine in Europe viewed through the works of the equine veterinarians of the 17th and 18th centuries) and Tim Clayton (Horsemanship in Paintings, drawings and prints. The outstanding artists who marked four centuries.) I can never thank them enough for their incredible contributions.

As for the illustration, a certain Hugo Maertens, art photography specialist, took almost 2000 clichés of book pages, making 1.029 the number of illustrations finally chosen by Johan Dejager, who remained a Work Master in the literal sense of the term.

“Once this job was finished, I contacted Sebastiaan Hesselink, of the HES & Graaf house to print. Together we concluded that some editing had to be done and it took Mr. Koert Van Der Horst, former curator from the Manuscript Library of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, three years to verify all of the texts, line by line, to complete and standardize the whole thing, which gave us the opportunity to reach new information until now unknown. Cees de Jong could then proceed with the design.”

Therefore, Johan Dejager managed to publish the “compilation” of the century.

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