Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas, Machado de Assis
6 Comments on “Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas, Machado de Assis”
I don’t think I buy that it’s inspired by tomb inscriptions. I don’t really see this kind of contrast on those.
I don’t think it fits the book, but it sure is cool to look at.
Tereza didn’t claim her typography directly references gravestone lettering. One can seek inspiration on cemeteries for a book subtitled as “epitaph” without emulating one’s findings one-to-one, no? Having said that, Chiswick definitely takes cues from gravestone lettering (among other sources), and the variety of letterforms on English cemeteries is huge, see the images in the linked article. The same is true for other places, too — here’s a random sample from Chicago.
I don’t know about cemeteries in São Paolo, but among the first hits in a Flickr search was this gate, with bold slab-serif caps that are not too different in feeling from some of the chosen Pyte faces.
I don’t think it fits the book
Why not? I’d love to hear your reasons.
Well, note how none of your pictures have high contrast letters, which is what I was focusing on, since many of the prominent fonts here have that. The linked article has some impressively engraved gravestones, however, which do have some contrast, but I have never seen anything like that in real life. Have you?
I don’t think it fits the book because the book’s writing style seems to me opposite to something that extravagant, except insofar as Cubas repeatedly tries to flatter the reader. I don’t reckon someone would think of this design with the book freshly in mind.
Something as "messy" and colorful as this cover and endpapers also seems disconnected from the aesthetics of the author’s literary movement. I understand how the individual elements are all period appropriate—there’s woodcuts, and type ornaments, and letters which allegedly are similar to period tombstones—but they’re all “remixed” in a way that clearly isn’t.
Anyway, I don’t blame the designer. I don’t know what this edition was made for, but the text being royalty-free was probably a major reason for choosing it. A more contemporary text would be more fitting to the design but also cost more to acquire. And, of course, she can do what she wants.
Hey Florian, that’s true. I remember I read this article by Paul Barnes about the same time I was designing this book. I am about to write about the process [in portuguese, hopefully very soon] but for while I post here some pictures from my research on cemeteries in São Paulo and Portugal.
Thanks, Thiago, I see. Contrast is such an ambiguous term in typography — I had assumed you were talking about contrast of size and weight (like very bold, compact caps vs. a rather delicate text face). For high stroke contrast: I don’t know how common that is on Brazilian gravestones. I guess the more ones looks, the more variety one will discover. The caps on the Almeida stone that Tereza posted have some (modest) reverse contrast. These stones from a Berlin cemetery show a 19th century Fat Face, but over the decades, the weather has eaten away some material. With the hairlines missing, the letters now look almost like a sans-serif stencil, in the vein of Futura Black — contrast amount: extreme.
I can’t read Portuguese and don’t know the book and its history, and hence can’t speak to the appropriateness. In general, there’s a lot to be said in favor of typographic choices that correspond to the time and place of the text’s origin or its setting. On the other hand, I often enjoy been surprised by an unexpected take. And I definitely don’t mind a contemporary approach. If it’s somehow rooted in (local) history or the topic, all the better. Anyway, thanks for elaborating!
Thank you for posting these pictures, Tereza. That bifurcated “Candida” is quite something.
I’m looking forward to read your process notes — hooray for automatic translation services!