Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Book as a Work of Art

Yesterday my son, Stephen, and I began talking about books. Not books on Kindle, I Pad or some other reading technology, but a genuine hardback book. Sadly, I'm anxious that "traditional" books as we know them will eventually become extinct.
I personally have hundreds of books. Over the years I have owned thousands of hard back books dating from the 19th century to present day. I don't care for paperbacks, although I will buy a paperback if money is scarce. I do own a Kindle, but as of this moment, I have opted for "traditional" books. I don't have anything against a Kindle or some other such device, I just prefer to hold a real book in my hands....and partake not only of the reading experience, but the artisic experience as well. Of course, there are many many novels that are void of illustrations, but there are many wonderful books....or there used to be, with magnificent illustrations. Books from the early twentieth and nineteenth century had glorious illustrations that truly made the book a work of art. Check out the following poetry book from my library: When She Was About Sixteen by James Whitcomb Riley, illustrated by Howard Chandler Christy, copyright 1911.

The following book of poetry, The Early Poems of John Greenleaf Whittier, copyright 1885, has no illustrations, but has a beautiful gilt gold board and spine.

Finally, check out the board  and illustrations of Harry Lorrequer by Charles Lever, illustrations by George G. White.

When I hold one of these volumes in my hands, I perceive them as a work of art, just as if I were viewing a beautiful painting or sculpture. While I am resigned to the irreversible tide of technology with regard to the written word, I do hope that a few authors will opt to produce works similar to these books by much earlier authors. Except for the category of children's literature, the combination of the written word with beautiful illustrations has become a rare find.

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