William Morris on the ideal book

19 Apr

By the Ideal Book, I suppose we are to understand a book not limited by commercial exigencies of price: we can do what we like with it, according to what its nature, as a book, demands of art. But we may conclude, I think, that its matter will limit us somewhat; a work on differential calculus, a medical work, a dictionary, a collection of a statesman’s speeches, or a treatise on manures, such books, though they might be handsomely and well printed, would scarcely receive ornament with the same exuberance as a volume of lyrical poems, or a standard classic, or such like. A work on Art, I think, bears less of ornament than any other kind of book (“non bis in idem” is a good motto); again, a book that must have illustrations, more or less utilitarian, should, I think, have no actual ornament at all, because the ornament and the illustration must almost certainly fight.

Still whatever the subject matter of the book may be, and however bare it may be of decoration, it can still be a work of art, if the type be good and attention be paid to its general arrangement. …  In fact a book, printed or written, has a tendency to be a beautiful object, and that we of this age should generally produce ugly books, shows, I fear, something like malice prepense—a to put our eyes in our pockets wherever we can.

Well, I lay it down, first, that a book quite unornamented can look actually and positively beautiful, and not merely un-ugly, if it be, so to say, architecturally good, which, by the by, need not add much to its price, since it costs no more to pick up pretty stamps than ugly ones, and the taste and forethought that goes to the proper setting, position, and so on, will soon grow into a habit, if cultivated, and will not take up much of the master printer’s time when taken with his other necessary business.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Badger, Party of 7

ART, HOMESCHOOLING MOTHER OF 5, ALL THINGS DOMESTIC, MY CRAZY LIFE

BOOK RIOT

Book Recommendations and Reviews

james (w) moore

unreliable writings/ramblings

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

(Somewhat) Daily News from the World of Literary Nonfiction

Vinita Words

It's always about writing...

David J. Bauman

Author of Angels & Adultery

MarLa Sink Druzgal

"Traveling MarLa"

The Drugstore Notebook

Portable poetry and books on display // Poesía portátil y libros expuestos

Beth Gilstrap

Writer * Reader * Editor

Anthony Martin

The website of fiction writer Anthony Martin

Anthony Wilson

Poetry, Education, Research

maria engberg

polyaesthetically being in the world...

momoby

Just another WordPress.com site

UnIambic

(The poetry blog of Grant Clauser)

Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

Just another WordPress.com site

Largehearted Boy

a roominghouse for the servants of the duende.

%d bloggers like this: