Book Porn, no.8

Max Beerbohm’s Zuleika Dobson; William Heinemann, London (1978).

Penguin these days is publishing some very attractive collector’s editions of famous novels.  I was recently in one of the local corporate bookstores and took a copy of Pride and Prejudice from the shelf to admire the cover art.  As lovely as it looked from the outside, however, the quality of the typeface – digitally perfect, utterly regular – was a turn off.

If we’re to fall fatally in love (with a book, with a person), some irregularity of features is needed.  “There is no excellent beauty,” Francis Bacon wrote, “that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”  Consider Zuleika (and Zuleika):

Perhaps it’s hard to tell by the photographs here.  You’ll have to trust that I was instantly smitten with this book.  The flimsy, fading dust jacket and loose binding; the high quality of the paper combined with the smudged, uneven application of ink; the inspired choice of typeface, with the upturned ‘e’ that recalls Zuleika’s own “shapely tilt of the nose” –  it all adds up to something irresistible.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Book Porn

3 responses to “Book Porn, no.8

  1. Hi Ian,

    Thanks. Fine job of work as always. I reply via Robert Herrick’s old anthology piece:

    “Delight in Disorder”

    A sweet disorder in the dress
    Kindles in clothes a wantonness;
    A lawn about the shoulders thrown
    Into a fine distraction;
    An erring lace, which here and there
    Enthralls the crimson stomacher;
    A cuff neglectful, and thereby
    Ribands to flow confusedly;
    A winning wave, deserving note,
    In the tempestuous petticoat;
    A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
    I see a wild civility:
    Do more bewitch me, than when art
    Is too precise in every part.

  2. This is great.

    Somewhat related: The fact that a description of Helen’s beauty is never given in all of Homer’s works. As if her beauty is too transcendent or perfect to be captured on the page or articulated in language.

  3. I do love me some Zuleika.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s