jueves, 8 de junio de 2017


Christa Zaat

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Arthur Rackham (British book illustrator) 1867 - 1939
Perdita, 1909
book illustration

Illustration published in 'Tales From Shakespeare' by Charles and Mary Lamb, Weathervane Books, a division of Barre Publishing Company, Inc., 1899 and 1909.

The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare.
Perdita is the daughter of Leontes, King of Sicilia, and his wife Hermione.
Perdita is born in prison, where her father has sent her mother because he wrongly believes she has been unfaithful to him. Paulina takes the baby to Leontes to try to convince him that it is his daughter, but he refuses to believe it. He thinks instead that she is the result of an affair between Hermione and Polixenes, King of Bohemia. He sends Antigonus to leave the infant Perdita on the seacoast of Bohemia. In a dream, Hermione appears to Antigonus and tells him to name her child Perdita, which means "the lost she" in Latin and, in Italian, "loss". He takes pity on her, but is chased away and eaten by a bear. Luckily, a shepherd living nearby, comes to see what the commotion is all about. He finds Perdita and also takes the box that Paulina left with Antigonus. It contains jewels and a note and some money, for Paulina knew that if someone found her, they would need an explanation. Perdita is brought back to the shepherd's house and is raised by the shepherd as his own, along with his son.
Early in the play, Perdita is described as being a beauty of conception. Sixteen years later, Perdita has grown into a beautiful young woman, unaware of her royal heritage. Prince Florizel, the prince of Bohemia, falls in love with her and plans to marry her. His father, however, disapproves of the marriage and threatens the couple, so they flee to Sicilia with the help of Camillo. Prince Florizel disguises himself as a merchant in order to be able to see Perdita. Later on, it is revealed that Perdita is the princess of Sicilia. Perdita is reunited with her father and mother. She lived her life thinking she was one person and found out she was another. She only knew the life of a simple girl. Leontes and Polixines reconcile and both approve of Florizel and Perdita's marriage. It is assumed that Florizel and Perdita lived happily ever after.

* * *

The book reduced the archaic English and complicated storyline of Shakespeare to a simple level that children could read and comprehend. However, as noted in the author's Preface, "his words are used whenever it seemed possible to bring them in; and in whatever has been added to give them the regular form of a connected story, diligent care has been taken to select such words as might least interrupt the effect of the beautiful English tongue in which he wrote: therefore, words introduced into our language since his time have been as far as possible avoided."
Mary Lamb was responsible for the comedies, while Charles wrote the tragedies; they wrote the preface between them.

* * *

Rackham was born in London as one of 12 children. In 1884, at the age of 17, he was sent on an ocean voyage to Australia to improve his fragile health, accompanied by two Aunts. At the age of 18, he worked as a clerk at the Westminster Fire Office and began studying part-time at the Lambeth School of Art.

In 1892 he left his job and started working for The Westminster Budget as a reporter and illustrator. His first book illustrations were published in 1893 in To the Other Side by Thomas Rhodes, but his first serious commission was in 1894 for The Dolly Dialogues, the collected sketches of Anthony Hope, who later went on to write The Prisoner of Zenda. Book illustrating then became Rackham's career for the rest of his life.
In 1903 he married Edyth Starkie, with whom he had one daughter, Barbara, in 1908. Rackham won a gold medal at the Milan International Exhibition in 1906 and another one at the Barcelona International Exposition in 1912. His works were included in numerous exhibitions, including one at the Louvre in Paris in 1914. Arthur Rackham died in 1939 of cancer in his home in Limpsfield, Surrey.

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