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Simon Garfield

Teoksen Just My Type: A Book About Fonts tekijä

25+ teosta 6,459 jäsentä 257 arvostelua

Tietoja tekijästä

Simon Garfield is the author of several acclaimed books, including "The End of the Innocence: Britain in the Time of AIDS", winner of the Somerset Maugham Award. He lives in London. (Publisher Provided)
Image credit: simongarfield.com

Tekijän teokset

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts (2012) — Tekijä — 2,291 kappaletta
The Wrestling (1996) 48 kappaletta

Associated Works

Granta 91: Wish You Were Here (2005) — Avustaja — 134 kappaletta
A Notable Woman (2015) — Toimittaja; Toimittaja — 81 kappaletta
My Dear Bessie: A Love Story in Letters (2015) — Toimittaja — 30 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla




On the Map, Maps and Atlases (helmikuu 2013)


If you've read his histories of cartography and typography, you'll know what you're in for here. A good popular overview, with interesting examples and some humorous banter. Decent.
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JBD1 | 18 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Feb 17, 2024 |
And to think it all began with a bike wreck...quite the unusual origin story for a book about time. However, for Garfield, the way in which those very few moments dilated into a perceived eternity became an instant reminder that the concept of "time" is fluid.

I think the work is mistitled: this is not a book about "how" the world became obsessed with time...in fact, it works on the principle that time obsession is part of the fabric of human reality (in different ways and to different degrees, of course). Instead, it reads more like a series of meditations on the nature and expression of a time-obsession that is somehow innate to human nature.

As meditations, each chapter is a stand-alone unit covering a whole range of tangentially time-related topics such as the coming of the railroad, the invention of the metronome, and the origin of the British Museum (among others). If anything, Garfield successfully demonstrates how every conceivable aspect of human existence has a fundamental time-related component.

Garfield's light touch and wit keep the book moving (it feels like a "fast read"); however, I always had the sense that we were "skimming the surface" of a topic worthy of deeper reflection. Yet I couldn't imagine reading with enjoyment a book that delved into the philosophical (yea verily, theological) aspects of humanity's relation to the reality of time (i.e., a book that really delved into the "how" of our time obsession). That was largely (and ironically) so because I didn't have the time.

Was it enjoyable? Yes. Was it worthwhile? Yes, but more for the questions it raised than the answers it gave. Better, I think the answers to those questions necessarily lie outside a cultural history that links the pursuit of the "4 minute mile" to the development of the Swatch.

Perhaps the key to my dissatisfaction here is found in Garfield's choice to conclude the final chapter with a quote from Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot": "Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light," this "mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

While I'm all for greater humility, I couldn't help but think, as I read, of how different the Genesis creation story puts it. In that ancient Hebrew cosmology, humans ARE incredibly important and occupy the MOST privileged place in the Universe...co-regents and co-rulers of the Creator. If we follow Sagan (and Garfield), it's really difficult to gin up anything in the way of true self-worth or larger purpose ("mote of dust"???).

That's probably the missing piece for me: Garfield treats time as if it's eternal (philosophically speaking, that might very well be a confusion of categories) and humans as if they are innately temporal. In reality (at least, the way the Bible describes it), it's the other way around: humans are eternal entities existing in a time-bound reality. (Is there a better explanation for why our relationship with time is so fraught? Why are dreams and plans and ambitions always seem to outrun the clock?)

But it wouldn't be right to say I'm disappointed because Garfield "missed" this. In fact, I don't think I've ever formulated the distinction between a "secular" and a "religious" worldview in quite that way. And I couldn't have done so without taking the time to ponder with Garfield the wondrous reality of time.
… (lisätietoja)
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Jared_Runck | 11 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 6, 2024 |
I read this because one of the 4 writers is my husband's great-uncle, and initially I planned to just kind of read his parts and skip over everyone else's, but I found myself getting pulled into all of the stories and ended up reading the entire book. It was surprisingly interesting - I kept reading excerpts out loud to my family. Not a book I would ever have picked up on my own, but I really ended up enjoying it.
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karenhmoore | 1 muu arvostelu | Jan 1, 2024 |
Overall, I enjoyed this fun and very thorough look into the history of letter writing. It's definitely a book that got better as it went along. Surprisingly, some of the historical bits got a little dry. The more ancient examples bored me but as the letter writing history became more modern, I became more intrigued.

The history of letter writing manuals was interesting, though I tend to agree with Montaigne that copying a prescribed style seems inauthentic. I also found it so interesting that people used to write on different parts of the paper, depending on their social status---or use crosshatches around their notes to make sure they weren't added to nefariously. Brilliant.

I thinks it's neat that finding letters can confirm history; such as the one confirming the 1914 Christmas truce football game. I'd read somewhere in the last few years that it was thought to have been legend---yet here we have a letter discussing it.

Naturally, in a book this long, I took offense at several parts. I disagree that the New Testament letters were merely "open letters" to a vague public. Each NT letter was written by someone who knew his recipients personally and felt a moral responsibility to them, as well as a deep friendship. These were letters from ones in relationships---much more than "unperformed speeches". Just because these are now used in sermons doesn't meant that was the original intent.

I also didn't appreciate his (seemingly ignorant) remarks against Jane Austen---for her sake, of course. She spent most of her time at home and interacted with the same people from week to week. What does he expect from her but "dull" notes about daily life? Also there is nothing wrong with crossed letters. I've written and received them on more than one occasion and they're not as difficult to read as one might assume. In fact, the middle and lower middle classes who were likely the main groups writing these probably thought them as fun and challenging to read as I do.

I thought it must have been quite fun deciphering mail at the Dead Letter Office... I wonder when and if this has stopped being a thing?

The correspondence between Chris and Bessie sprinkled throughout was a great addition. I was hoping for a happy ending.

All in all, I'm glad I read this quite exhaustive tome. I love writing and receiving handwritten letters and keep correspondence with quite a few fellow letter-writers. In fact, I even run a letter writing group called The Victorian Letter Writers Guild---but you'll have to look me up by 21st century means to find out more!
… (lisätietoja)
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classyhomemaker | 18 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 11, 2023 |



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