Letter by Letter: An Alphabetical Miscellany

Overview

Letters are the building blocks of our language, and quite possibly of our consciousness. Written into young minds through constant repetition, letters soon function like water in a fishbowlessential for life, but too familiar to qualify as objects of serious inquiry. But considered separately from words and sentences, letters express their own mysteriousbeauty. In order to uncover their secrets, it is necessary to forego the conventional historical approach in favor of ...

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Overview

Letters are the building blocks of our language, and quite possibly of our consciousness. Written into young minds through constant repetition, letters soon function like water in a fishbowlessential for life, but too familiar to qualify as objects of serious inquiry. But considered separately from words and sentences, letters express their own mysteriousbeauty. In order to uncover their secrets, it is necessary to forego the conventional historical approach in favor of animpassioned appreciation of their formal and sensual characteristics.

In Letter by Letter graphic designer and calligrapher Laurent Pflughaupt analyzes each letter of the Roman alphabet in detail, tracing its origin, evolution, and form, as well as discussing its important abbreviations, symbols, and associated meanings. Arranged in alphabetical order, twenty-six entries offer a wealth of facts about each letter, establishingcorrespondences between letters and elements borrowed from a variety of different fields of study, ranging from traditionalpaleography, phonetics, and graphic arts to the more arcane areas of musicology, esotericism, and even Eastern philosophy.In addition to a glossary, timelines and images allow us to visualize the letters during the different historical eras, givingthe reader an appreciation of their successive metamorphoses. Written as an homage, this lovingly illustrated book takes abroad approach to the modern alphabet, allowing the reader to see letters anew, in a fresh and lively manner guaranteed toinform and enchant anyone interested in typography and language.

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Editorial Reviews

Steven Heller
Although readers won't find Arial (the favorite default sans-serif on the computer) or Zapf Dingbats (the most commonly used typographic ornaments, at least on the Macintosh), they will be told about the calligraphic and engraved origins of the Western alphabet, particularly the Roman letter, with such clarity (and a touch of raciness) that even the novice will be appreciative…This book will not make mediocre desktop typographers much better, but it will offer insights into the anatomy and structure, not to mention the sound, of letters.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568987378
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
  • Publication date: 3/20/2008
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurent Pflughaupt is a designer, calligrapher, and artist. He received his degree from l'École municipale supérieure des arts et techniques in Paris.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 7

I History 11

From Cuneiform to Contemporary Calligraphy

II Formal Analysis 29

Strokes 30

Angles 33

Letter Anatomy 37

Chakras 38

Colors 42

III Letter by Letter 45

Glossary 141

Maps 156

Bibliography 157

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