Home Culture Behold a Digitization of “The Most Lovely of All Printed Books,” The Kelmscott Chaucer

Behold a Digitization of “The Most Lovely of All Printed Books,” The Kelmscott Chaucer

Behold a Digitization of “The Most Lovely of All Printed Books,” The Kelmscott Chaucer


The historical past of the printed guide stretches again effectively over a millennium, the title of the oldest recognized guide presently being held by a Tang Dynasty work of the Diamond Sutra. However what about probably the most lovely guide? As a contender for that spot, Michael Goodman (beforehand featured right here on Open Tradition for his initiatives on the illustrations of Shakespeare and Dickens) has put forth the Kelmscott Chaucer, together with the testimony of no much less a literary determine than W.B. Yeats, who known as it “probably the most lovely of all printed books.” Goodman has additionally made the guide freely accessible for our perusal on his new web page, The Kelmscott Chaucer On-line.

“William Morris, the nineteenth-century designer, social reformer and author, based the Kelmscott Press in the direction of the tip of his life,” says the web page of the British Library. “He wished to revive the abilities of hand printing, which mechanization had destroyed, and restore the standard achieved by the pioneers of printing within the fifteenth century.”

Revealed in 1896, the Kelmscott Chaucer, absolutely titled The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer now newly imprinted, “is the triumph of the press. Its 87 wood-cut illustrations are by Edward Burne-Jones, the celebrated Victorian painter, who was a life-long pal of Morris. The illustrations had been engraved by William Harcourt Hooper and printed in black, with shoulder and facet titles.”

You may view all these components and extra, digitized intimately and completely downloadable, on Goodman’s website, organized into separate sections devoted to its illustrations, full pages, borders, frames, and even its embellished phrases — the likes of which we seldom, if ever, see within the printed books of our personal, infinitely higher-tech century. “The version I’ve used for this venture is a facsimile from the Nineteen Fifties that has sat on my shelf for a few years,” Goodman notes. Given how few copies of the Kelmscott Chaucer had been initially produced, 13 copies on vellum, and one other 58 on pig’s pores and skin, “any particular assortment’s library who’re fortunate sufficient to personal an unique copy are prone to be very reluctant to embark upon any type of digitization as a result of important threat of injury that the method may inflict upon the guide.”

In the event you’d like a better have a look at the real article, which is way bigger than the digitization might let on, you will get one in the video simply above, hosted by London uncommon guide supplier Adam Douglas. “It’s apparent as quickly as we open to the start how a lot care and a spotlight has been lavished on this guide,” he says, highlighting the “lovely designs within the pre-Raphaelite method,” the woodcut initials all through (no two of that are alike), and the “great proportions” that match the Golden Ratio. It takes a sure sophistication, or no less than data of the historical past of printing and guide design, to completely respect the Kelmscott Chaucer. However due to Goodman, youthful readers — even a lot youthful readers — can get pleasure from it in coloring-book type.

Associated content material:

Terry Jones, the Late Monty Python Actor, Helped Flip Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Right into a Free App: Discover It On-line

Uncover the First Illustrated Ebook Printed in English, William Caxton’s Mirror of the World (1481)

3,000 Illustrations of Shakespeare’s Full Works from Victorian England, Neatly Offered in a New Digital Archive

The Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery: A New On-line Assortment Presents The entire Unique Illustrations from Charles Dickens’ Novels

Obtain Free Coloring Books from Almost 100 Museums & Libraries

Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embody the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the guide The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by means of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here