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Old 06-28-2005, 12:08 PM   #1
Eric Ladner
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Tacoma, WA
Posts: 139
Default Baskerville

Wasn't it Baskerville's designs that were thought difficult to read when they were introduced? I can't find the source right now, but that seems familiar. (Or was it his smooth paper that critics disliked?)

I'm reading a large (782 pages) book called _Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell_. The story is set in England between 1806 and 1817, and the text is set in Baskerville. That seems appropriate and allusive enough, but I thought of the old criticism of Baskerville when I realized that the pages seem rather gray to me, and actually slightly tiring to read. I think the leading is slightly more generous than in many books today; it looks nice to me, but probably does contribute to a lighter page color.

A colophon discusses Baskerville's type, its differences from Caslon, and the history of his punches after his death. Unfortunately, it has them acquired by "Beberny" & Peignot. Where are the copyeditors and proofreaders? Strangely, there are no dates to give average readers a clue why Baskerville is appropriate for this book, or why they should care about it.

I have around 650 pages to go, and it wouldn't particularly surprise me to find typefaces playing a part in the story!

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