The Rose and the Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray.
|Front cover of the 1854 edition of|
The Rose and the Ring.
The Rose and the Ring; or, The History of Prince Giglio and Prince Bulbo: A Fire-Side Pantomine for Great and Small Children was published in Christmas 1854 and does have the feel of the likes of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night or A Winter's Tale: light entertainment to perk up a cold, wintery day. It tells the story of a royal family in the fictional countries of Paflagonia and Crim Tartary. It begins in Paflagonia with King Valoroso, the Queen, and Princess Angelica. A visit from Prince Bulbo of Crim Tartary, the son of King Padella, is expected, and we also learn that King Valoroso seized the throne from Prince Giglio, his nephew and prince of Paflagonia.
At this point, I'm sorry to say, my attention started to wane. A similar thing happened with Vanity Fair; one minute it had me, the next minute gone. There's a farcical element to The Rose and the Ring, and I've never yet enjoyed any farcical humour. It's also a satire which slightly saved it on the monarchy and marriage (which was rather brave of Thackerary, I thought, given the time he was writing), but the one thing I did truly enjoy was the illustrations by Thackeray himself. I've just learned that Thackeray originally wanted to be an illustrator, and even applied to be the illustrator of The Pickwick Papers after the death of Robert Seymour (Hablot Knight Browne a.k.a. Phiz got the job). Here are a few of the illustrations, which remind me a little of John Tenniel (who illustrated Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 1865, and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, 1871):
And that was my 27th title for the Deal Me In Challenge. I'm sorry, by the way - I hate writing negative reviews! Hopefully next week will be better: I've drawn The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitalier by Gustave Flaubert.