For those interested in following the development of a fine press book from concept to completion, check out Russell Maret’s blog. His latest posts have to do with his forthcoming book, Æthelwold. For this book, Russell is designing his own type, designing the book, producing all of the illustrations and taking care of the printing. The blog offers a fascinating look into the many decisions and interim successes on the way to producing a finished book. His latest post describes printing the first pages of the book in his new type:

“On Thursday I printed the first two pages of the Pervigilium Veneris (one each of Latin and English) in my new Cancalleresca Milanese type. Printing a bilingual text presents many challenges to the typographer, the greatest of which is whether to pursue a feeling of typographic equanimity or to emphasize the differences between the two texts. In the case of the PV, the solution to this problem was aided by Bruce Whiteman’s approach to the translation. Rather than producing a symmetrical syllabic rendering of the Latin, Bruce (thankfully) chose to set the English to his own music. The resulting translation is nearly twice as many lines as the original Latin. One of the pitfalls of using a Cancalleresca Corsiva type (like my Milanese) is that it tends to visually break up when freighted with too much white space. The ascenders and descenders need to be close to their kind or they hang on the page like forlorn tendrils, disconnected and exposed. If I were to set both the Latin and the English in upper and lower case, the Latin would not hold its own on the page but be subsummed by the empty chasms separating stanzas. As a solution I chose to set the Latin in all caps and the English in upper and lower case. The Latin stakes out its territory with a horizontal epigraphic presence while the English is allowed to flow in a more vertical thread.”

AND: If you’re lucky enough to be in Los Angeles May 3rd, Russell is giving a free public lecture called ‘Letter Forms as Content.’ Let’s hope some clever person records the presentation and distributes it as a podcast for unfortunates like myself who won’t be able to attend.

Where and when: Sunday, May 3, 2009. 2:00 – 5:00pm at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 2520 Cimmaron Street, Los Angeles, CA.

Russellophiles can look forward to reading his illustrated article ‘Drawing with Smoke,’ which will be featured in the fall 2009 issue of Parenthesis. And Russell’s latest book, Mediaeval in Padua, will be reviewed by Robert Bringhurst in the same issue. Parenthesis is published twice a year and is free to members of the FPBA. Not an FPBA member? Click here.

— Paul Razzell