London: Grant Richards, 1904. Item #00706
“With Visions of Hell That are Truly Horrific”
[ROBINSON, W. Heath, illustrator]. RABELAIS, François. The Works of Mr. Francis Rabelais Doctor in Physick Containing Five Books of the Lives, Heroick Deeds & Sayings of Gargantua and His Sonne Pantagruel…Illustrated by W. Heath Robinson. In Two Volumes. London: Grant Richards, 1904.
First trade issue of “this extravagant edition” (Beare). Two quarto volumes (11 3/16 x 8 3/4 inches; 285 x 223 mm.). xlii, [1, blank], [1, illustration], 377, [1, blank]; xliv, 350, [2, blank] pp. Photogravure frontispiece in each volume, with tissue guard. Volume I with fifty-five full-page illustrations, fifty-nine grotesque heads, and twenty-six other small drawings or vignettes, all in line block. Volume II with forty-three full-page illustrations, thirty-five grotesque heads, and thirty-four other small drawings or vignettes, all in line block. Title page printed in black and red.
Original white buckram pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt on front cover and spine. Top edge gilt, others uncut. Pictorial endpapers printed in brick red. Covers a little bit dust soiled, front hinge of each volume expertly and almost invisibly repaired. Otherwise a near fine set.
“[Robinson’s] largest and most ambitious project to date…was The Works of Rabelais which was published in two large volumes containing a hundred full page illustrations and well over a hundred smaller drawings and vignettes…It is the full page drawings that are the most original, with visions of hell that are truly horrific, and a raw power and earthiness in the drawings that is exactly in tune with Rabelais’ narrative style. These drawings must have influenced illustrators who followed and many of them bring to mind the work of Mervyn Peake forty years later” (Beare, p. 23).
“The last serious piece of illustration that [Robinson] undertook in this first phase of his book illustrating career” (Lewis, p. 83).
Beare 35A. Lewis, p. 215.