Sunday, October 30, 2011

Triunfo Arciniegas / Deep Water

Triunfo Arciniegas

Translated by Verónica Arciniegas
with the collaboration of Anabel Torres
Ilustrations by Marcel Caram 
Graphic Design by Alejandra Arciniegas

Triunfo Arciniegas
Ediciones Gato Negro

Friday, October 28, 2011

Life and Style / Margaret Atwood / Angela Carter and other dead friends

Margaret Atwood
Poster by T.A.

The Q&A
Margaret Atwood

'How do I relax? What is this "relax" of which you speak, Earthling?'

Rosanna Greenstreet
Friday 28 October 2011 22.59 BST

Margaret Atwood, 71, was born in Ottawa and lives in Toronto. She has written more than 50 volumes, but is best known for her novels, including The Handmaid's Tale and Booker prizewinner The Blind Assassin; her most recent is The Year Of The Flood. A campaigner for the environment, she has contributed to the Ghosts Of Gone Birds exhibition at the Rochelle School, east London, from 2-23 November.
When were you happiest?

Can't pick and choose, it's bad luck.

What is your greatest fear? 

Long, lingering dementia, followed by death from choking on a fishbone.

What is your earliest memory? 

Digging in mud with a spoon, 1942.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 

Getting too involved in too many things. It eats your brain.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 

Begrudging mean-spiritedness.

What is your most treasured possession? 

Right now, my glasses.

What would your super power be? 

The flying-around thing. With a cape.

What makes you unhappy? 

Reading newspapers before caffeine.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? 


If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose? 

The great auk, like the one I just knitted for Ghosts Of Gone Birds, in aid of BirdLife International's preventing extinctions programme.

Who would play you in the film of your life? 

Somebody short. Or else Lady Gaga.

What is your favourite word? 

And. It is so hopeful.

What would you wear to a fancy dress party? 

A Dolly Parton wig and stiletto heels.

Is it better to give or to receive? 

To give, definitely, because you have no say in what you receive.

Which living person do you most despise? 

I don't do "despise", I do "annoying pity".

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? 

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 

"OK, I'll do" (your fundraiser, etc).

If you could go back in time, where would you go? 

On the Titanic for the first few days of its voyage. Or at the siege of Troy.

How do you relax? 

What is this "relax" of which you speak, Earthling?

What is the closest you've come to death? 

In 1948 when the brakes failed on our car. About to get on a plane to New York on 9/11. Choking on a fishbone.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The white-water canoe run I did solo at Lady Evelyn Park 20 years ago. It was impromptu. It took the skin off my knees. It was an unnecessary risk.

How would you like to be remembered? 

By members of a human race who have managed to avoid annihilating their entire species and can thus still do some reading, and remembering.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you? 

The only way out is through.

Where would you most like to be right now? 

The Canadian Arctic. Nothing like it.

Tell us a joke

What does the Canadian girl say when you ask her if she'd like sex? "Only if you're having some yourself."

Gabriel Figueiredo / The faces behind the typefaces

By Gabriel Figueiredo


If you want to find out about a certain typeface or typedesigner, just follow the scheme: Number on the list - Typeface - Type Designer.
From left to right, top to bottom.

001 - Helvetica - Max Miedinger
002 - Garamond - Claude Garamond
003 - Frutiger - Adrian Frutiger
004 - Bodoni - Giambattista Bodoni
005 - Futura - Paul Renner
006 - Times - Stanley Morrison
007 - Akzidenz Grotesk - Günter Gerhard Lange
008 - Officina - Erik Spiekermann
009 - Gill Sans - Eric Gill
010 - Univers - Adrian Frutiger
011 - Optima - Hermann Zapf
012 - Franklin Gothic - Morris Fuller Benton
013 - Bembo - Francesco Griffo (Stanley Morrison)
014 - Interstate - Tobias Frere-Jones
015 - Thesis - Lucas De Groot
016 - Rockwell - Frank Hinman Pierpont
017 - Walbaum - Justus Walbaum
018 - Meta - Erik Spiekermann
019 - Trinité - Bram De Does
020 - DIN - Ludwig Goller
021 - Matrix - Zuzana Licko
022 - OCR-A - American Type Founders
023 - Avant Garde - Herb Lubalin
024 - Lucida - Kris Holmes
025 - Sabon - Jan Tschichold
026 - Zapfino - Hermann Zapf
027 - Letter Gothic - Roger Roberson (photo missing)
028 - Stone - Sumner Stone
029 - Arnhem - Fred Smeijers
030 - Minion - Robert Slimbach
031 - Myriad - Robert Slimbach
032 - Rotis - Otl Aicher
033 - Eurostile - Aldo Novarese
034 - Scala - Martin Majoor
035 - Syntax - Hans Eduard Meyer
036 - Joanna - Eric Gill
037 - Fleischmann - Erhard Kaiser
038 - Palatino - Hermann Zapf
039 - Baskerville - John Baskerville
040 - Fedra - Peter Bilak
041 - Gotham - Tobias Frere-Jones
042 - Lexicon - Bram De Does
043 - Hands - Erik Van Blokand
044 - Metro - William Addison Dwiggins
045 - Didot - Firmin Didot
046 - Formatta - Bernd Mollenstadt (photo missing)
047 - Caslon - William Caslon
048 - Cooper Black - Oswald Cooper
049 - Peignot - Adolphe Mouron Cassandre
050 - Bell Gothic - Chauncey Griffith
051 - Antique Olive - Roger Excoffon
052 - Wilhelm - Rudolf Koch
053 - Info - Erik Spiekermann
054 - Dax - Hans Reichel
055 - Proforma - Petr Van Blokland
056 - Today Sans - Volker Kuester
057 - Prokyon - Erhard Kaiser
058 - Trade Gothic - Jackson Burke
059 - Swift - Gerard Unger
060 - Copperplate - Frederic Goudy
061 - Blur - Neville Brody
062 - Base - Zuzana Licko
063 - Bell Centeniel - Matthew Carter
064 - News Gothic - Morris Fuller Benton
065 - Avenir - Adrian Frutiger
066 - Bernhard Modern - Lucian Bernhard
067 - Amplitude - Christian Schwartz
068 - Trixie - Erik Van Blokand
069 - Quadraat - Fred Smeijers
070 - Neutraface - Christian Schwartz
071 - Nobel - Sjoerd De Roos
072 - Industria - Neville Brody
073 - Bickham Script - Richard Lipton
074 - Bank Gothic - Morris Fuller Benton
075 - Corporate ASE - Kurt Weidemann
076 - Fago - Ole Schafer
077 - Trajan - Carol Twombly
078 - Kabel - Rudolf Koch
079 - House Gothic - Tal Leming
080 - Kosmik - Just Van Rossum
081 - Caecilia - Peter Matthias Noordzij
082 - Mrs Eaves - Zuzana Licko
083 - Corpid - Lucas De Groot
084 - Miller - Matthew Carter
085 - Souvenir - Morris Fuller Benton
086 - Instant Types - Just Van Rossum
087 - Claredon - Robert Besley
088 - Triplex - Zuzana Licko
089 - Benguiat - Ed Benguiat
090 - Zapf Renaissance - Hermann Zapf
091 - Filosofia - Zuzana Licko
92 - Chalet - Rich Roat
093 - Quay - David Quay
094 - Cezanne - Richard Kegler
095 - Reporter - Carlos Winkow (photo missing)
096 - Legacy - Ronald Arnholm
097 - Agenda - Greg Thompsom
098 - Bello - Bas Jacobs
099 - Dalliance - Frank Heine
100 - Mistral - Roger Excoffon

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

James Puckett / The Autograph of Beatrice Warde

James Puckett
The Autograph of Beatrice Warde
January 21st, 2011

Last semester I was lucky to have Brenda Becker, a New York book artist, as a student. Typography and book arts run in Brenda’s family; Beatrice Warde was her aunt. Brenda has a collection of Beatrice Warde’s belongings and kindly lent me this piece, Concerning Some Words by Beatrice Warde & Types by Varied Hands. It contains selections from Warde’s essays laid out by designers including W. A. Dwiggins and Bruce Rogers, printed by John Anderson at the Pickering Press in New Jersey, 1953. This particular copy is especially nice because it was autographed by Warde inside the front cover.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Beatrice Warde / The Crystal Goblet

Beatrice Warde
Or Printing Should Be Invisible

Imagine that you have before you a flagon of wine. You may choose your own favourite vintage for this imaginary demonstration, so that it be a deep shimmering crimson in colour. You have two goblets before you. One is of solid gold, wrought in the most exquisite patterns. The other is of crystal-clear glass, thin as a bubble, and as transparent. Pour and drink; and according to your choice of goblet, I shall know whether or not you are a connoisseur of wine. For if you have no feelings about wine one way or the other, you will want the sensation of drinking the stuff out of a vessel that may have cost thousands of pounds; but if you are a member of that vanishing tribe, the amateurs of fine vintages, you will choose the crystal, because everything about it is calculated to reveal rather than hide the beautiful thing which it was meant to contain.
Bear with me in this long-winded and fragrant metaphor; for you will find that almost all the virtues of the perfect wine-glass have a parallel in typography. There is the long, thin stem that obviates fingerprints on the bowl. Why? Because no cloud must come between your eyes and the fiery heart of the liquid. Are not the margins on book pages similarly meant to obviate the necessity of fingering the type-page? Again: the glass is colourless or at the most only faintly tinged in the bowl, because the connoisseur judges wine partly by its colour and is impatient of anything that alters it. There are a thousand mannerisms in typography that are as impudent and arbitrary as putting port in tumblers of red or green glass! When a goblet has a base that looks too small for security, it does not matter how cleverly it is weighted; you feel nervous lest it should tip over. There are ways of setting lines of type which may work well enough, and yet keep the reader subconsciously worried by the fear of 'doubling' lines, reading three words as one, and so forth.
Now the man who first chose glass instead of clay or metal to hold his wine was a 'modernist' in the sense in which I am going to use that term. That is, the first thing he asked of his particular object was not 'How should it look?' but 'What must it do?' and to that extent all good typography is modernist.
Wine is so strange and potent a thing that it has been used in the central ritual of religion in one place and time, and attacked by a virago with a hatchet in another. There is only one thing in the world that is capable of stirring and altering men's minds to the same extent, and that is the coherent expression of thought. That is man's chief miracle, unique to man. There is no 'explanation' whatever of the fact that I can make arbitrary sounds which will lead a total stranger to think my own thought. It is sheer magic that I should be able to hold a one-sided conversation by means of black marks on paper with an unknown person half-way across the world. Talking, broadcasting, writing, and printing are all quite literally forms of thought transference, and it is the ability and eagerness to transfer and receive the contents of the mind that is almost alone responsible for human civilization.
If you agree with this, you will agree with my one main idea, i.e. that the most important thing about printing is that it conveys thought, ideas, images, from one mind to other minds. This statement is what you might call the front door of the science of typography. Within lie hundreds of rooms; but unless you start by assuming that printing is meant to convey specific and coherent ideas, it is very easy to find yourself in the wrong house altogether.
Before asking what this statement leads to, let us see what it does not necessarily lead to. If books are printed in order to be read, we must distinguish readability from what the optician would call legibility. A page set in 14-pt Bold Sans is, according to the laboratory tests, more 'legible' than one set in 11-pt Baskerville. A public speaker is more 'audible' in that sense when he bellows. But a good speaking voice is one which is inaudible as a voice. It is the transparent goblet again! I need not warn you that if you begin listening to the inflections and speaking rhythms of a voice from a platform, you are falling asleep. When you listen to a song in a language you do not understand, part of your mind actually does fall asleep, leaving your quite separate aesthetic sensibilities to enjoy themselves unimpeded by your reasoning faculties. The fine arts do that; but that is not the purpose of printing. Type well used is invisible as type, just as the perfect talking voice is the unnoticed vehicle for the transmission of words, ideas.
We may say, therefore, that printing may be delightful for many reasons, but that it is important, first and foremost, as a means of doing something. That is why it is mischievous to call any printed piece a work of art, especially fine art: because that would imply that its first purpose was to exist as an expression of beauty for its own sake and for the delectation of the senses. Calligraphy can almost be considered a fine art nowadays, because its primary economic and educational purpose has been taken away; but printing in English will not qualify as an art until the present English language no longer conveys ideas to future generations, and until printing itself hands its usefulness to some yet unimagined successor.

There is no end to the maze of practices in typography, and this idea of printing as a conveyor is, at least in the minds of all the great typographers with whom I have had the privilege of talking, the one clue that can guide you through the maze. Without this essential humility of mind, I have seen ardent designers go more hopelessly wrong, make more ludicrous mistakes out of an excessive enthusiasm, than I could have thought possible. And with this clue, this purposiveness in the back of your mind, it is possible to do the most unheard-of things, and find that they justify you triumphantly. It is not a waste of time to go to the simple fundamentals and reason from them. In the flurry of your individual problems, I think you will not mind spending half an hour on one broad and simple set of ideas involving abstract principles.
I once was talking to a man who designed a very pleasing advertising type which undoubtedly all of you have used. I said something about what artists think about a certain problem, and he replied with a beautiful gesture: 'Ah, madam, we artists do not think---we feel!' That same day I quoted that remark to another designer of my acquaintance, and he, being less poetically inclined, murmured: 'I'm not feeling very well today, I think!' He was right, he did think; he was the thinking sort; and that is why he is not so good a painter, and to my mind ten times better as a typographer and type designer than the man who instinctively avoided anything as coherent as a reason. I always suspect the typographic enthusiast who takes a printed page from a book and frames it to hang on the wall, for I believe that in order to gratify a sensory delight he has mutilated something infinitely more important. I remember that T.M. Cleland, the famous American typographer, once showed me a very beautiful layout for a Cadillac booklet involving decorations in colour. He did not have the actual text to work with in drawing up his specimen pages, so he had set the lines in Latin. This was not only for the reason that you will all think of; if you have seen the old typefoundries' famous Quousque Tandem copy (i.e. that Latin has few descenders and thus gives a remarkably even line). No, he told me that originally he had set up the dullest 'wording' that he could find (I dare say it was from Hansard), and yet he discovered that the man to whom he submitted it would start reading and making comments on the text. I made some remark on the mentality of Boards of Directors, but Mr Cleland said, 'No: you're wrong; if the reader had not been practically forced to read---if he had not seen those words suddenly imbued with glamour and significance---then the layout would have been a failure. Setting it in Italian or Latin is only an easy way of saying "This is not the text as it will appear".'
Let me start my specific conclusions with book typography, because that contains all the fundamentals, and then go on to a few points about advertising.

The book typographer has the job of erecting a window between the reader inside the room and that landscape which is the author's words. He may put up a stained-glass window of marvellous beauty, but a failure as a window; that is, he may use some rich superb type like text gothic that is something to be looked at, not through. Or he may work in what I call transparent or invisible typography. I have a book at home, of which I have no visual recollection whatever as far as its typography goes; when I think of it, all I see is the Three Musketeers and their comrades swaggering up and down the streets of Paris. The third type of window is one in which the glass is broken into relatively small leaded panes; and this corresponds to what is called 'fine printing' today, in that you are at least conscious that there is a window there, and that someone has enjoyed building it. That is not objectionable, because of a very important fact which has to do with the psychology of the subconscious mind. That is that the mental eye focuses through type and not upon it. The type which, through any arbitrary warping of design or excess of 'colour', gets in the way of the mental picture to be conveyed, is a bad type. Our subconsciousness is always afraid of blunders (which illogical setting, tight spacing and too-wide unleaded lines can trick us into), of boredom, and of officiousness. The running headline that keeps shouting at us, the line that looks like one long word, the capitals jammed together without hair-spaces---these mean subconscious squinting and loss of mental focus.
And if what I have said is true of book printing, even of the most exquisite limited editions, it is fifty times more obvious in advertising, where the one and only justification for the purchase of space is that you are conveying a message---that you are implanting a desire, straight into the mind of the reader. It is tragically easy to throw away half the reader-interest of an advertisement by setting the simple and compelling argument in a face which is uncomfortably alien to the classic reasonableness of the book-face. Get attention as you will by your headline, and make any pretty type pictures you like if you are sure that the copy is useless as a means of selling goods; but if you are happy enough to have really good copy to work with, I beg you to remember that thousands of people pay hard-earned money for the privilege of reading quietly set book-pages, and that only your wildest ingenuity can stop people from reading a really interesting text.
Printing demands a humility of mind, for the lack of which many of the fine arts are even now floundering in self-conscious and maudlin experiments. There is nothing simple or dull in achieving the transparent page. Vulgar ostentation is twice as easy as discipline. When you realise that ugly typography never effaces itself; you will be able to capture beauty as the wise men capture happiness by aiming at something else. The 'stunt typographer' learns the fickleness of rich men who hate to read. Not for them are long breaths held over serif and kern, they will not appreciate your splitting of hair-spaces. Nobody (save the other craftsmen) will appreciate half your skill. But you may spend endless years of happy experiment in devising that crystalline goblet which is worthy to hold the vintage of the human mind.

Beatrice Warde
The Cristal Goblet
Sixteen Essays on Typography
Londres, 1932

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Julio Cortázar / All Fires the Fire

By Julio Cortázar

I think this is the best of the Pantheon Cortázar jackets. The designer is again Kenneth Miyamoto, who had created the jacket for 62: A Model Kit
but the painting on the cover is Paul Klee's The North Sea. The way the central swath vanishes in the distance always makes me think of "The Southern Thruway," one of the eight stories included inside, even though it's an empty beach rather than a superhighway jammed with vacationers returning to Paris.
The back cover features that wonderfully over-the-top Neruda quote: Anyone who doesn’t read Cortázar is doomed. Not to read him is a grave invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who had never tasted peaches. He would be quietly getting sadder, noticeably paler, and probably little by little, he would lose his hair. I don’t want those things to happen to me, and so I greedily devour all the fabrications, myths, contradictions, and mortal games of the great Julio Cortázar.
Gregory Rabassa was once again the translator. This edition was published in September 1973, the same month that Salvador Allende was overthrown in Chile and the same month that Neruda died.

Posted by Chris Kearin at 7:13 PM
Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Julio Cortázar / Cronopios and Famas

By Julio Cortázar

Paul Blackburn and Cortázar were exchanging correspondence about the translation of this book of whimsical stories and fables as early as 1959, three years before the book appeared in Spanish.
Paul, your translation is formidable. I've read it twice, making note in passing of the observations that I have to make to you, and they're minor details. You've managed the spirit of the thing, that way of writing that I used with the cronopios and that comes out beautifully in English (at times it makes me think a little of Damon Runyon, whom I've always admired a great deal). I congratulate you, and I give you a big hug (with one arm only, because the other one is still all messed up).
A subsequent letter refers to a reading Blackburn gave in New York City that included several of the pieces, apparently with great success.
You don't know how happy this makes me. Did you make a tape recording? How I would have liked to hear your voice reading your translations, it would be fabulous. Many thanks for scattering my cronopios in the cafés of 9th Avenue. They must have eaten all the hamburgers, I imagine, and then left without paying. Deplorable conduct of the cronopios in New York.
         Blackburn did eventually send Cortázar a tape, whether from that reading or another.
As it turned out, the cronopios, famas, and esperanzas had to wait their turn until 1969, after Pantheon's publication of two novels and one book of short stories. Dave Holzman did the artwork for this jacket. My copy is a paperback reprint. A Journey Round My Skull has the hardcover version.

Posted by Chris Kearin at 7:39 AM
Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Julio Cortázar / End of the Game

By Julio Cortázar

The idea of translating selections from Cortázar's work must have been in Paul Blackburn's mind at least from April 1958, when the Argentinian wrote him a friendly letter, in the course of which he outlined the books he had published to date and mentioned that he had just completed a long story, "El perseguidor" ("The Pursuer") based on Charlie Parker. Blackburn seems to have turned his hand first to  Cronopios and Famas
, although that book wouldn't appear in its entirety until 1969. By 1962, Cortázar was writing to Sara Blackburn (Paul's wife, and Cortázar's US editor) about a translation of "Las armas secretas" (apparently just the title story, not the entire volume) by Hardie St. Martin:
It seems formidable to me. It's very faithful, very precise, and it has all of the atmosphere of the original. I marked two or three little things that can be corrected without great effort... I would be delighted if someone would be moved to translate "The Pursuer" and the other stories in the book, but above all "The Pursuer."
I'm not sure what became of St. Martin's translation, but in 1967, after Pantheon had already published The Winners and Hopscotch, End of the Game appeared, containing Blackburn's translations of most of the contents of Bestiario, Las Armas Secretas, and Final del Juego, including the Parker story, "Axolotl," "The Idol of the Cyclades," and twelve other pieces. By then Antonioni's film Blow-Up, which is loosely based on Cortázar's "Las babas del diablo," was about to appear, and so the story was retitled "Blow-Up," a felicitous change as the original title translates to something like "the devil's spittle." When the Collier Books edition appeared a year later the title of the entire volume was changed and a still from the movie became the cover art.
           In the late '70s or early '80s a Harper paperback edition restored the original title, but the subsequent Vintage edition that remains in print is once again Blow-Up.

The original surrealist-derived cover art from the hardcover edition is credited to one Hoot von Zitzewitz, whose identity appears to be a bit mysterious. In a letter to Paul Blackburn and his wife Sara (who was his editor at Pantheon), Cortázar wrote:
Dear Sarita, many thanks for the copy of End of the Game, which is very nice. I have the impression that we have chosen the sequence of stories well, and that some critics will say some interesting things about them.
The same letter also alludes with regret to Sara's decision to leave Pantheon. By 1969 she and Paul Blackburn had divorced and Paul had married for a third time.
(Translations are mine, from the three-volume Alfaguara edition of Cortázar's Cartas.)

Posted by Chris Kearin at 8:04 PM
Monday, October 04, 2010