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Learning to Die by Robert Bringhurst & Jan Zwicky

Contributed by John Butler on Jan 25th, 2022. Artwork published in
circa 2018
.
    The front cover in Adobe Jenson.
    Photo: John Butler. License: All Rights Reserved.

    The front cover in Adobe Jenson.

    This little book comprises two essays by husband and wife Robert Bringhurst and Jan Zwicky, plus an afterword which amounts to a critique of Stephen Pinker’s then-recently-published book Enlightenment Now.

    The book addresses how to most nobly embrace our impending doom. Despite my disagreement with some of its points, every word in this book was worth my time reading, and I expect to read it several times, which I confess is rare for me with any book. Their writing is simply the best one can find from living Anglophone writers today. And there are indeed many parts I do agree with.

    The cover and jacket, designed by Duncan Campbell (University of Regina Press) use Adobe Jenson in more than one optical size. The book interior was typeset by Bringhurst. The body text is typeset in Bembo Roman, combined with Fairbank for italics. Bringhurst substitutes the alternate earless italic g which reminds me of the g from Arrighi. This is more microtypography than one normally gets inside body text.

    Fairbank’s backstory, relation to Bembo and recent revival are interesting in their own right. I’m glad this book demonstrates how harmoniously they can combine. As executed here, it makes a good alternate italic for Bembo. It reminds me of other multi-italic designs like Fairfield and Seria.

    It’s beautiful enough to stare at over and over. Buy it, own it, read it, stare at it.

    The back cover in Adobe Jenson.
    Photo: John Butler. License: All Rights Reserved.

    The back cover in Adobe Jenson.

    Bembo body copy with Fairbank for italics
    Photo: John Butler. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Bembo body copy with Fairbank for italics

    More details of the italic. Note the Centaur-like f and g.
    Photo: John Butler. License: All Rights Reserved.

    More details of the italic. Note the Centaur-like f and g.

    Typefaces

    • Adobe Jenson
    • Bembo
    • Fairbank

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    1 Comment on “Learning to Die by Robert Bringhurst & Jan Zwicky”

    1. As it happens, Fairbank is still available in an older format here.

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