Better yet, here’s another question: how many publishers do you know whose catalog even has an Alphabets & Symbols division, never mind an expanding one?
[UPDATE 6/12: SPECIAL DISCOUNT ON JAPANESE ALPHABET - 30% OFF AT ABBEVILLE.COM! From now through 6/30, enter the coupon code "alphabet" at checkout to receive this special discount.]
Following in the footsteps of Abbeville’s popular Maya Script, Arabic Script, Hieroglyphics, and Chinese Calligraphy titles comes our latest volume about a non-Roman symbol system: Japanese Alphabet: The 48 Essential Characters. In this book, expert polyglot Gabriel Mandel (author of Arabic Script) guides the reader through all 48 principal Japanese characters and their associated sounds, providing the roma-ji, or Roman phonetic spelling, for each. Also included are diagrams that demonstrate how to reproduce each character stroke by stroke, leaving you, the reader, just one fancy calligraphy pen away from writing in one of the world’s most elegant languages. If you’ve already bought the four volumes mentioned, you can even try combining all five ancient languages into one truly impenetrable secret code—or one hell of a party trick (“Any ancient Maya in the room?”).
Readers who are interested in ancient languages qua art can also look forward to one of our upcoming fall publications: Egyptian Wall Painting. A tome as monumental as its subject, this survey of two-dimensional depictions in ancient Egypt—glyphs and pictographs that stood squarely at the intersection of art, language, and religion—features full-page illustrations on special matte paper that actually re-creates the texture of the stuccoed limestone on which the original works were painted. Is there anything we don’t think of?
1.1. “Both in Chinese and Japanese [writing], each character is composed of a series of strokes executed in a prescribed order. Strokes are made from the top down and from the left to the right; horizontal lines are drawn before verticals, whether they are alongside them or cross them. The central stroke is completed before symmetrical parts, and the strokes are made from the inside outward. The final base line is added when the central stroke has been completed; vertical or horizontal lines that cross the entire ideogram are written last.”
- Japanese Alphabet
Got that? Don’t think you can master the fundamentals of English style and then start getting all sloppy in other languages. Even in East Asia, Abbeville’s got its editorial eye on you, bub.
The Abbeville blog has moved! This post is now available here.
Be sure to check out Bob Duggan’s very detailed and kind review of Italian Frescoes: The Baroque Era this week at Art Blog By Bob. Our favorite sentence:
“While such perspective was permitted [in Baroque fresco painting], it literally blew the roof off these churches, opening up the imagination of the viewer to an entire cosmos of spiritual possibility.”
We like to think our books do the same thing to our readers.
In the early eighteenth century, the garden of Alexander Pope, the major poet and tastemaker of his age, was considered the ultimate expression of his aesthetic ideals of elegance, proportion, and classical harmony. Today, the ultimate expression of the aesthetic ideals of our age might just be Abbeville’s books about gardening—from the chic Private Gardens of the Fashion World to the artistically cutting-edge Gardens of Revelation. And with spring approaching fast and fragrant, you’ll want to pick up at least one of these volumes in time to start planning your own floral sanctum sanctorum. Once it’s blossomed, give Abbeville a call: we might be up for strolling through it with you, quoting Pope and holding forth on the aesthetics of style.
1.1. Part of the fun of having a garden is telling visitors what’s in it. A good strategy is to plant only flowers and shrubs with cool-sounding names: “snapdragon,” “phlox,” “rhododendron,” “pheasant’s-eye narcissus.” Conversely, you might want to steer clear of “bladder senna.”
As part of our noble and continuing effort to extend the reach of Abbevillian style into all possible media, we are proud to announce the launch of “Abbevideo” on our new website. As the elegantly attired host explains in this first episode, Abbevideo is a series designed to give you, our readers and viewers, an in-depth look inside your favorite Abbeville titles. This week’s installment profiles Steffi Roettgen’s Italian Frescoes: The Baroque Era, 1600-1800, the fifth and final volume in Abbeville’s monumental study of the great Italian fresco cycles.
As you watch, look at the close-ups of the book illustrations. Notice how well the static images translate to video format: there’s something cinematic about the richness of the colors, the drama of the poses, the narrative quality of the scenes with their huge casts of characters. Hundreds of years before the moving image, it was paintings like these—so spectacular, so dynamic, so, well, baroque—that emerged as the first true blockbusters.
Today marks our first installment of “Marginalia”: a series of featured entries on blogs and websites that we enjoy, and that we’ll be adding to the Blogroll on the right-hand “margin” of this page. (Yes, yes, we could have called it the Manual of Style-roll, but that sounded even worse than the alternative.) Today we are linking to Art Blog by Bob, an excellent blog unusual for its focus on art history as opposed to purely contemporary art. It contains biographical profiles and musings on famous historical artists as well as samples of their famous historical works. It also contains a fair amount of literary discussion, a byproduct of what the author humbly calls his “previous life as a literary pseudo-scholar”—and a characteristic that endears it to this particular Arbiter. We will be checking Art Blog by Bob often and we encourage you to do the same; rumor has it that he might post an entry on an Abbeville book soon…