Rackham, Arthur (1867-1939) Autograph Letter Signed, 4 August 193?.
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Rackham, Arthur (1867-1939) Autograph Letter Signed, 4 August 193?. Single wove bifolium Stilegate, Limpsfield, Surrey writing paper, inscribed over four pages, to a Dr. Solly [?], commenting on (and disparaging) his illustrations for Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, mentioning a visit to New York, and the potential longevity of cubism, among other topics, old folds, 9 x 7 in.
"Many thanks for your very interesting letter. Dana's book is a curiously interesting book. It has made such an unusual place for itself. What it is that gives permanent life to such a work is very hard to say. Perhaps it's simple absolute reality. The pity is it wasn't illustrated in its own day with all the kindness & experience that would make its reality visible. I am bound to say that my work can only be called hack work of a quite ignorant kind. All boys in my youth still felt the sea in their blood. Marryat & the others were still their favorite reading. They still 'ran away' to sea. And, short of the last, I was truly of that date. But when Collins came to me, I had to set it all up -- & in so far as I have succeeded in being truthful, it has only been by most cautious hiding my pervading ignorance behind such facts as I managed to 'mug up' for the occasion. I did actually take great pains-- the lowering of a boat from a yard arm-- the tackle swinging loose-- the individual actions of the men in the boat as she dropped behind the ship-- & all that sort of thing-- I had never (or practically never) seen. But I did make sketches & diagrams on board a ship (in dock) & I did all I could to verify my sketches & intentions from both sailors & marine artists. But that's not the way to illustrate Dana! It was a miserable publication, wasn't it. All my early books were. I have few or none of them left. I destroyed most at birth. And now it concerns me very much to see my early sins rising up & confronting me. My only visit to the states was in 1929 when I was I met your friend Dick Dana. I wish I could recall meeting him. It was only a very short visit & I saw comparatively few people but they have left rather a confused memory that I have formed a relatively little picture of N.Y. that let me feel at home when E. 66th St. & Gramercy Park or &c. &c. &c. are mentioned. It was winter & I had no time --but among the parts of the world I haven't yet seen, I do still rather yearn for "Little-women-Land" and other familiar places on your side. It was pouring & pouring & pouring when I walked the school ma'am's long path. I feer I am too sentimental for this age, but I hardly believe packing-case architecture & cubism are biologically sound enough to flourish for long. Sincerely yours, Arthur Rackham"
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