“The Story of Writing is an…immensely readable survey of how written languages came into being. From the emergence of the alphabet in ancient civilizations to letterforms of the twentieth century, we see how the tools and materials available to the people of each era shaped the way letters and pages were created. The author skillfully turns our attention to western civilization and the Greek and Roman influence on what became the English alphabet. Later chapters bring us through the development of writing in the dark ages, the middle ages, then into the machine age with the invention of the printing press and copperplate engraving. Of this later period, Jackon writes: ‘When the calligraphers were not fighting for recognition… they were fighting each other. In 1595 two English calligraphers, Peter Bailes and Daniel Johnson, took part in a trial of penmanship, competing for a prize of [a golden pen of twentie pounds.] Johnson, a bad loser, afterwards published a manifesto protesting that the jury had been rigged, and Bailes counter-charged with a denunciation of his own…. It was a sad spectacle, for whatever their public antics, the skills of these masters and of their engravers were without doubt immense. The Renaissance scribes of Italy had never needed to compete with a machine, or with the razzle-dazzle of the engraver’s slick allure, which placed a barrier between the pen and the page. The chain was broken….’
The book is filled with both black-and-white and color illustrations of samples of manuscripts, tools, and hand-made letters. The illustrations alone make this book a valuable addition to the artist’s library, as well as to the historian’s.” The book will provide us with an unusual perspective from which to discuss language, expression, art, calligraphy, communication and – yes – those darned emoticons!
Please note that the April meeting is again at the Greenburgh Library but it is on the fourth Thursday of the month this time only!