Elsewhere I mentioned recently that the David R. Godine blog has been a dispirited creature, with few and meager posts. I am happy to report that it has now been infused with new dedication and spark, and I am informed by both David Godine and Daniel Pritchard at the press that they are resolved to maintain the blog at a high level going forward.
For about the past week substantial posts have been coming almost daily. Yesterday featured a generous commentary on Bruce Rogers, the great American typographer best known for designing the neo-Venetian typeface Centaur. The post finds David Godine writing with ease and authority on Rogers’s career:
Rogers had certain natural talents, and among these were his abilities as a pasticheur; he could put himself into the skin of almost any century and make it his own. Nowhere are these talents displayed with more vigor and inventiveness than the books he produced in the sixteen productive years (1896-1912) he worked at The Riverside Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He had big shoes to fill; D.B. Updike had left to start his own shop in 1893 and both Houghton and Mifflin saw the need for a captive private press that could produce first-rate editions and printing at moderate costs. They had the editorial taste; they had the plant at Riverside on the other side of the Charles; they had willing and skilled workman. What was needed was a leader who could both direct a program and oversee the details of design and production. In Rogers, they found the perfect candidate, a typographer who was able to take over a small corner of the enormous factory on the bank of the Charles, select the titles, and produce the volumes without regard to either estimates or costs.
This was the decade immediately following Morris’s final efforts as a printer and designer and, above all, of the Kelmscott Chaucer, a book that appeared in 1896 and was, in so many ways, the culmination of Morris’s remarkable career as a craftsman and visionary. In its total integration of text and image, paper, printing, and ink, it would forever change what would be expected a privately printed edition and set the bar high (perhaps impossibly high) for any future “private press.” Although Morris died shortly after DBU left Riverside, his influence was strong and pervasive on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps Rogers absorbed some of it; he could hardly not be aware of it. And how could he ignore it working in Boston alongside Goodhue, Copeland and Day, and the arts and crafts revival that took the region by storm? But BR was nothing if not eclectic and inventive, and his three decades at Riverside produced books that hearken back to Jean de Tournes and the French sixteenth century, to Bulmer and Bensley of the late seventeenth, and to Pickering and Whittingham of the mid- nineteenth. As I said, he could slip into almost any clothes and make them fit.
Read more at the source.
The blog is a Google blogspot — if I were to make one suggestion to the Godine folks it would be to host the blog on their own website in order to take advantage of the authority that site has established with search engines. But that is a minor point, and one that is of no import to readers. For nearly forty years Godine has been among our top independent literary publishers. I’m looking forward to what is to come from this revitalized blog.