London: Grant Richards, 1904. Robinson, W. Heath. First Edition. Hardcover. First printing of this work with illustrations by W. Heath Robinson, two volumes (complete), quarto size, 815 total pp. Near fine. Item #CNJWEM029
A monumental collection of Francois Rabelais' (ca. 1493-1553) satirical novels of the life of two giants, Gargantua and Pantagruel, this two-volume set contains all five books telling of the adventures of these two characters; the text is rampant with Rabelais' wit, as well as baudy and often grotesque humour.
Both volumes are filled with illustrations by William Heath Robinson (1872-1944), an exemplary book illustrator and cartoonist, "the only British illustrator to become a 'household name'" (Houfe). A contemporary of acclaimed illustrators Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, Robinson is best known for his cartoons portraying elaborate and whimsical machinary made to complete simple tasks; in fact, his fame was such that the term "Heath Robinson" was used in the United Kingdom to refer to such machinary, much as the term "Rube Goldberg" was used in the United States.
This set is the first edition with Robinson's illustrations, published in 1904, and is in remarkable condition (see details below).
___DESCRIPTION: Full white cloth, gilt illustrations and lettering on the front board and spine, top edge gilt, fore- and bottom edges uncut, endpapers with illustrations in red, each volume with a black-and-white illustrated frontispieces by W. Heath Robinson, in Volume I captioned "Gargantua", in Volume II captioned "We tickled it off there with copious cramming.", each with tissue guard, title page in red and black, Volume I with forty-four (including frontispiece) full-page black-and-white illustrations, Volume II with fifty-six (including frontispiece) full-page black-and-white illustrations, both collated complete, both volume replete with line drawings in black, both vignettes and some head- and tailpieces throughout; quarto size (11.5" by 9.25"), pagination: Volume I: [i-vii] viii-xlii [xliii-xliv]  2-377; Volume II: [i-ix] x-xliv  2-350.
___CONDITION: Volumes could almost be deemed fine, with clean boards (the white cloth cleaner than any we have seen), the gilt on the boards bright, straight corners, strong, square text blocks with solid hinges, the interiors are clean and bright, and entirely free of prior owner markings; a hint of dustiness to the spines, light off-setting to the endpapers and tissue guards, one leaf with a short closed tear (two-inch) found in Volume II, p. 117 with all but a speck in the margin, and all hinges starting (but text block is still strong). Even with the few condition issues, an outstanding example.
___CITATIONS: Horne pp. 373-374; Houfe p. 282; Beare no. 35a.
___POSTAGE: Please note that this is a large and heavy set, and therefore additional postage will apply; please inquire for details.
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