London: William Heinemann, 1908. Item #04231
"An Almost Perfect Setting for Rackham's Devic Imagination"
Edition de Luxe Signed by Arthur Rackham
Bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe for E. Joseph
[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. 687.
Large quarto (11 3/8 x 9 inches; 290 x 229 mm.). , 134, [1, blank], [1, imprint] pp. Forty color plates mounted on brown art paper, with descriptive tissue guards. A few text pages lightly browned, some light foxing to descriptive tissues.
Bound ca. 1991 by Sangorski & Sutcliffe for E. Joseph (stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-in) in full dark brown crushed levant morocco. Covers ruled in gilt, front cover pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt to match the original 1908 cover design, spine paneled and lettered in gilt in compartments, gilt-ruled board edges and turn-ins, top edge gilt, others uncut, marbled endpapers. A near fine 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.