Brian's History of Communication Design Blog

Weekly exposition on recent learnings.

Leave a comment

final post

For my final posting, I wanted to share the photos I took on our class trip to the Vancouver Public Library’s Special Collections floor. We saw some amazing books.

The first three photos are of an abbess’ Book of Days, an incunabula on vellum.

_MG_1067 _MG_1068 _MG_1071

We then saw a leaf from the Gutenberg bible.

_MG_1074 _MG_1075

This was followed by an early book, printed in Venice. The page was densely covered in type.

_MG_1077 _MG_1078

Of particular interest to me was a book fo Martin Luther’s works, in Latin, that had been owned by William Morris. One has to wonder how much influence the typesetting and type design had on Morris himself.

_MG_1079 _MG_1080 _MG_1081 _MG_1082

To contrast against Morris, we also looked at Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament.

_MG_1083 _MG_1084 _MG_1085

There was a classic example of Morris’ work available as well. True to form, the frontispiece was more elaborate than the inner pages.

_MG_1086 _MG_1088

Finally, we looked at Owen Jones’ masterpiece, his two volume work on Alhambra. It was exquisite and reminded me of all the work I’d done on Islamic themes.

_MG_1089 _MG_1090 _MG_1091 _MG_1092 _MG_1093


Leave a comment

The King James Bible or Shakespeare

The last class reviewed the early history of the printed page, from the Roman-inspired incunabula through the advent of Gutenberg A comment made by the professor was how Gutenberg’s bible led to the standardization of modern German. And although there was no German state, there was certainly a German language. The Gutenberg bible, therefore, standardized orthography and word use.

I began to wonder, therefore, about modern English. I had read and long believed that Shakespeare, with his extremely broad and inventive vocabulary, and his active adoption of non-London dialects into his plays, had a profound impact on the standardization of modern English.

But when you consider that it was indeed the KJV of the bible that had a far greater scope of reach than Shakespeare (after all, most homes would have a bible, but not everyone would bother to buy plays), I began to realize that the KJV would have a much greater impact than Shakespeare.

Indeed, the King James bible added 257 idioms to English, more than any single source, including Shakespeare, including, according to Wikipedia, feet of clay and reap the whirlwind. Not to mention the standardized orthography.

I guess Shakespeare worship is best left to the English literature department. His plays are brilliant, but he didn’t have the overall effect on modern English at the level that the KJV did.