When the container (refers to packing) is artistic and beautiful, confidence is created in the minds of the buyers as for the product. When the quality of a product is good, and the container is made of ordinary stuff, even then it is acceptable. But what if when then container and the contents of a product, both are extraordinary? One will be very pleased. Donald Jackson’s book, “Story of Writing” is one such product.
You feel you have an asset by buying it, reading and possessing it. The subject is interesting for the readers and especially for writer-readers. Then writer-readers feel a sense of belonging, by owning this book. They say it is a sin to borrow books; it is a bigger sin to return the borrowed books. The suggestion here is that don’t you ever commit the bigger sin if you happen to borrow this book. The meritorious book on the subject on all counts: This is a scholarly work.
The subject matter immediately catches one’s imagination and therefore one’s interest and curiosity about the contents of the book, prevails till the last page. The ‘biography’ of the written language and how the alphabets of the ancient civilization took the concrete letter forms during the twentieth century, how pages were created and books took their forms are explained with clarity. To the student in the Computer Age, this reads like an unbelievable fairy tale.
How the English alphabet came in to the present shape and the Roman and Greek influence on it is also explained in detail. Invention of the press had deep influence on the development of writing in the machine age. Anything handy was a tool for writing in the dark ages and the middle ages. Copperplate engraving was in vogue in the machine age. Apart from the editors, calligraphers were the highly noticed individuals in a publishing house. There are instances when the entire printed matter of a newspaper was written by calligraphy.
This book is the collector’s delight. It contains many black-and-white and color illustrations. They are mostly of hand-made letters, tools and rare manuscripts. The artist and the historian both will like this book for their own reasons. Every page looks like an art page or painting. Those who love good hand writing will be amazed at the capacity of the calligraphers to create such beautiful letters of any size. This book is a good reference source for language, history, art and design teachers.
Donald Jackson, himself a calligrapher, has created a reader’s-joy book! Jackson’s love for tradition is evident throughout the book. He succeeds in creating a yearning in the minds of the readers to do experimentation on the lines and techniques indicated by him. He gives illustrative and demonstrative examples of cutting reeds and quills, making papyrus and the application of gold. If you need to record anything in ‘golden letters’ take the help of the book ‘Story of Writing ‘ by Jackson.
The Chapter on the Middle Ages contains many a technical detail related to that era, illustrations, the common mistakes committed, colors, ruling of lines, ink used, annotations, illuminated manuscripts, gilding etc. The challenges of writing were immense in his age and lots of creative skill was required. The book also contains some beautiful old paintings on the subjects of writing and printing. The book is full of color and has a festive look, apart from the authentic information it provides for the casual reader as well as for the researcher.
Only Donald Jackson with inborn talents as for calligraphy could have produced such a book. He won the scholarship at the age of 13, for pursuing his interest in an art school, where he studied for six years. He was quickly noticed and recognized and at the age of 20(a student then). He was the visiting Professor at the Camber well College of Art, London. ============== References Cited: Jackson, Donald . Book: Story of Writing . Publisher: Taplinger Pub Co (September 1981) ISBN-10: 0800801725 ISBN-13: 978-0800801724