London: William Heinemann, 1908. Item #01984
"An Almost Perfect Setting for Rackham's Devic Imagination"
Edition de Luxe
Signed by Arthur Rackham
[RACKHAM, Arthur, illustrator]. SHAKESPEARE, William. A Midsummer-Night’s Dream. With Illustrations by Arthur Rackham. London: William Heinemann, 1908.
Edition de Luxe, limited to 1,000 numbered copies signed by the artist, this being copy No. 926. Large quarto (11 1/2 x 9 1/16 inches; 292 x 231 mm.). , 134, [1, blank], [1, printer's slug] pp. Forty color plates mounted on brown art paper, with descriptive tissue guards.
Original vellum over boards pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt. Top edge gilt, others untrimmed. Later silk ties. Bookplate of Agnes Marion Armitage. A bit of mild toning to vellum at edges. Spine a little 'mottled'. Still an excellent copy.
"Within twelve months appeared Shakespeare's A Midsummer-Night's Dream, De la Motte Fouqué's Undine, and the Grimm brothers' Fairy Tales, all very different in quality and feeling, as demanded by the texts, but all of extremely high quality.
The Dream was, of course, an almost perfect setting for Rackham's devic imagination -- perhaps only bettered by the opportunity of The Tempest -- with the result that some of the fairies, elves and goblins he created for this play are among his finest colour images, and almost all the plates echo perfectly the mysterious interweaving of lightness and depth in this great work. Many of the formal plates are exquisite, whether they depict the principal events of the main theme of the story, such as the translated Bottom with his ass-head mocked by tree sprites, or the night-rule of Titania's haunted grove, those incidents within the subsidiary action, with details hardly dreamed of by Shakespeare, such as the gnomish knife-grinder in a motley group of fairies. Some of the floriated headings for the Dream are the finest of Rackham's line at the time, as for example the heading vignette for Act One, Scene One, which with typical Rackham irrelevance spreads its tendrils over the page, and into the text, ignoring the fact that the setting is supposed, according to Shakespeare, to be the Palace of Theseus, and throwing us immediately into a tangle-wood Rackhamerie, with mice, pixies and a sleeping maiden." (Fred Gettings. Arthur Rackham, pp. 117-123).
Latimore and Haskell, p. 32. Gettings, p. 177. Riall, p. 87.