The latest issue of the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies (December 2016), guest-edited by Christina Ionescu and Ann Lewis, explores the illustration of eighteenth-century bestsellers through time. Entitled Picturing the Eighteenth-Century Novel Through Time: Illustration, Intermediality, and Adaptation, it includes an introduction and nine articles.
Some relevant excerpts from the introduction co-written by the editors:
‘Have you noticed that no book ever gets well illustrated once it becomes a classic?’, asked Aubrey Beardsley in passing during a late creative period when he was facing the challenge of illustrating Les Liaisons dangereuses. The talented British artist was emphatic in his belief that ‘[c]ontemporary illustrations are the only ones of any value or interest’, in other words, those produced during the initial publication and reception of a text. Is this statement, however, unequivocally true? Beardsley’s premature death put an end to his ambitious endeavour to produce an elaborate visual supplement for the fin-de-siècle edition of Choderlos de Laclos’s epistolary novel commissioned by Leonard Smithers and, consequently, we will never know if he would indeed have succeeded in illustrating this eighteenth-century classic ‘well’ approximately 114 years after its first appearance in print. The question of whether images which were produced for editions other than those princeps …read more