January 22, 2007

Rip Van Winkle illustrated by Arthur Rackham

Rip van Winkle by Washington Irving, published in1819, was part of a collection intitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon and usually assigned as the birth of fantastic literature. Irving is inspired by european fairy tales patterns (the brother Grimm notably) and built fictions which mix fantastic, mythology and U.S. politics.

Rip Van Winkle tells how the protagonist, a dutch settler, gets drunk and fells asleep, a stormy night, in the Castkill Mountains. When he wakes up, he finds, incredulous, that his night of drinking with the spirits of Henry Hudson and his crew from the shift "Half-moon", counts for twenty years to the rest of the world. In one night, the subject of his Majesty George the Third, is now a free citizen of the United States! During his long sleep, the revolutionnary war issues on the creation of the USA. Welcomed as a ghost, our hero is frightened by this new nation. The "american dream", for him, begins as a nightmare (see the entire story).

Irving's stories became legends and take part nowadays of the american unconscious mind.

The illustrations by Arthur Rackham, feed the fanstastic dimension of Rip Van Winkle and underscore the irony and the blackness of this unpleasant aftertaste of this unwilling American.

Currently, you can find at the librairie Loliée :
  • [Rackham (Arthur)] - Irving (Washington) - Rip Van Winckle. Paris, Hachette, 1906, in-4, "bradel" binding in wove paper.
  • [Rackham (Arthur)] - Fort(Paul) - Le Livre des Ballades. Paris, Piazza, 1921, in-4.