Wednesday, August 15, 2012

55. Curious errors (1)

Now and then, one comes across a paragraph on Ricketts and Shannon in books about art and literature of a general kind, containing curious errors regarding biographical facts. One example is a monograph by Stephan Tschudi Madsen (1923-2007), Art nouveau, published in English in 1967. On page 80 we read:

'in 1889 the first number of The Dial appeared, edited by Charles Ricketts and his pupil Robert Shannon.'

One may wonder how Charles was rechristened Robert in the first place, and then - while he was two years older - became to be seen as his pupil. Of course, literature about Ricketts and Shannon was rare and not that well informed at the time. But still, the misguiding detail seems to betray a more than superficial knowledge about the pair.
Front cover for the Dutch translation of S. Tschudi Madsen, Art nouveau (1967)
The Dutch translator made it worse. Duco van Weerlee, in his 1968 translation of Art nouveau (published by W. de Haan/J.M. Meulenhoff), introduced several misspellings for Ricketts, such as 'Rickett' and 'Ricket' (p. 81) - as if losing the name, one letter at the time, - and he rechristened him as well, not to Robert, but to 'Thomas Rickett' (p. 56, 58, index p. 256). One finds these errors repeated by other writers.