“THE VERY MUSIC MADE VISIBLE” (C.S. LEWIS): WAGNER’S RING CYCLE, STRIKINGLY ILLUSTRATED BY RACKHAM
(RACKHAM, Arthur) WAGNER, Richard. The Ring of the Niblung: The Rhinegold & The Valkyrie. WITH: Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods. London and New York: William Heinemann and Doubleday, Page, 1910-11. Together, two volumes. Quarto, publisher's pictorial brown cloth, pictorial endpapers, original dust jackets. $2300.
First trade editions of Arthur Rackham’s superbly illustrated set of Wagner’s Ring cycle, with 64 full-page mounted color illustrations and numerous black-and-white ornaments. In beautiful condition in the original dust jackets.
"Germany was Rackham's favorite holiday destination, and the country which, apart from England, had the single most important influence on his art" (Hamilton, 42). Appropriately, then, Rackham provided the libretti of Wagner's epic "Ring cycle," arguably German opera's greatest achievement, with a dramatic series of illustrations, his only work aimed exclusively at adults. At least one child, however, saw and responded to Rackham's art: the young C.S. Lewis, who would later recall, "His pictures, which seemed to me then to be the very music made visible, plunged me a few fathoms deeper into my delight. I have seldom coveted anything as I coveted that book" (Hamilton, 101). The Rhinegold & The Valkyrie with 34 mounted full-page illustrations in color and numerous in-text linecuts in black and white. Siegfried & the Twilight of the Gods with 30 mounted full-page illustrations in color and numerous black-and-white in-text linecuts. The trade edition feature pictorial endpapers not found in the signed limited first editions. See: Latimore & Haskell, 37-38; Riall, 103, 109.