Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks

by Keith Houston
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Overview

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston

“An absolutely fascinating blend of history, design, sociology, and cultural poetics—highly recommended.”—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

A charming and indispensable tour of two thousand years of the written word, Shady Characters weaves a fascinating trail across the parallel histories of language and typography.

Whether investigating the asterisk (*) and dagger (†)—which alternately illuminated and skewered heretical verses of the early Bible—or the at sign (@), which languished in obscurity for centuries until rescued by the Internet, Keith Houston draws on myriad sources to chart the life and times of these enigmatic squiggles, both exotic (¶) and everyday (&).

From the Library of Alexandria to the halls of Bell Labs, figures as diverse as Charlemagne, Vladimir Nabokov, and George W. Bush cross paths with marks as obscure as the interrobang (?) and as divisive as the dash (—). Ancient Roman graffiti, Venetian trading shorthand, Cold War double agents, and Madison Avenue round out an ever more diverse set of episodes, characters, and artifacts.

Richly illustrated, ranging across time, typographies, and countries, Shady Characters will delight and entertain all who cherish the unpredictable and surprising in the writing life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393241549
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/17/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
File size: 11 MB
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About the Author

Keith Houston is the author of Shady Characters and the founder of shadycharacters.co.uk. He lives in London.

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