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Old 06-12-2017, 06:47 AM   #1
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Fitz-Gerald, S.J. A.: The Zankiwank & the Bletherwitch (ill-Rackham). v1. 12 Jun 2017

The Zankiwank and the Bletherwitch, An Original Fantastic Fairy Extravaganza
By S. J. Adair Fitz-Gerald (1859–1925)
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1867–1939)

First published in 1896.
Text is in the public domain in countries where copyright is “Life+90” or less, and in the USA. Illustrations are in the public domain in countries where copyright is “Life+70” or less, and in the USA.

* * *
This children’s book is delightful nonsense in prose and verse, filled with fantastical creatures, absurd situations, amusing word-play, and no moral whatsoever. (Its main fault, if fault it be, may be that some of Fitz-Gerald’s verse is rather too sweetly sentimental to suit the humorous tone of the book.)

The text is charmingly illustrated with 40 line drawings by Arthur Rackham, showing the first hints of the fantastical style for which he was to become known. This was Rackham’s first commission to illustrate an entire book.

Meet a few of the characters:
Spoiler:
It was the Zankiwank, who was doing some conjuring tricks for the benefit of the Jackarandajam and Mr Swinglebinks, to whom Willie referred. The Zankiwank was certainly a very curious person to look at. He had very long legs, very long arms, and a very small body, a long neck and a head like a peacock. He was not wearing a bathing suit as Willie imagined, because there were tails to his jacket, hanging down almost to his heels. He wore a sash round his waist, and his clothes were all speckled as though he had been peppered with the colours out of a very large kaleidoscope.

The Jackarandajam was also rather tall and thin, but dressed in the very height of fashion, with a flower in his coat and a cigarette in his mouth, which he never smoked because he never lit it. He was believed by all the others – you shall know who all the others were presently – to know more things than the Man-in-the-Moon, because he nearly always said something that nobody else ever thought of. And the Man-in-the-Moon knows more things than the Old Woman of Mars. You have naturally heard all about Mars – at least, if you have not heard all about her, you all have heard about her, which is just the same thing, only reversed.

Mr Swinglebinks, unlike his two companions, was short, stout, and dreadfully important. In Fable Land, where we are going as soon as we start for that happy place, he kept a grocer’s shop once upon a time. As nobody cared a fig for his sugar and currants, however, he retired from business and took to dates and the making of new almanacks, and was now travelling about for the benefit of his figures. He was very strong on arithmetic, and could read, write, and arith-metise before he went to school, so he never went at all.

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