Men of Letters & People of Substance

In this ingenious gallery of graphic invention, Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich puts his design genius to work assembling discrete typographic elements — letters, linecuts, and ornaments (known in the trade as “dingbats”) — into delightful portraits of literary figures, as well as facial patterns suggesting emotions, qualities, and states of mind. De Vicq, who has worked as creative director for Random House and HarperCollins and now manages his own studio, is a master of typefaces in more ways than you can imagine. He gives us James Joyce rendered entirely in Baskerville, John Steinbeck in Bodoni Old Face, Marcel Proust in Auriol, Virginia Woolf in Didot. His array of common linecuts and ornaments into representations of “Creepy,” “Philanderer,” “Social Butterfly,” “Raw,” “Cooked,” and other ideas and attributes are blissfully fanciful examples of imagination composed upon a page. This elegant, beautifully produced paperback is a marvelous book in every way. –