San Francisco: The Arion Press, 2007. Ross Anderson. Hardcover. The Arion Press edition, edited and designed by Andrew Hoyem, is both historically allusive and keenly contemporary. The type is Suburban French, a face cut about 1911 and adapted for Monotype composition. It may have been based on a Didot type from around 1804 and bears resemblances to the elegant Romain du Roi of Grandjean for the Imprimerie Royale in 1702. The initial letters and display type on the title page are Gallia, produced by Lanston Monotype in 1928. This face was chosen because of its striping of thin-thick-thin lines and is printed in rose ink because of the preference of the author for bed-hangings in this color and pattern. That scheme is repeated on the binding cloth, with alternating rose and gray stripes. Rose, or pink, in one’s surroundings, de Maistre advises, ensures happiness. The printing is by letterpress, on Arches Text, a French mouldmade paper. The book is in a small format, 8-1/4 by 5-7/8 inches, 152 numbered pages plus 32 unnumbered pages for the illustrations, totaling 184 pages. The edition of the book is limited to 300 numbered copies for sale and 26 lettered copies hors de commerce. The book is signed by Ross Anderson. New. Item #CNAP078
Under the bibliographical heading of "Travel and Exploration" is a subhead, "Imaginary Journeys". Here we have a book based on personal experience by a traveller who goes nowhere outside his living quarters, except in his imagination.
The author, Xavier de Maistre, was born in 1763 at Chambéry in France. In 1790, as a young officer in the Piedmontese army, he participated in a duel. It is not known whether his opponent perished or was wounded; de Maistre records no injury to himself. As punishment he was confined to his own quarters in Turin for forty-two days. During that period of house arrest he wrote a book, a short work, but one that would have long influence and enjoy virtually uninterrupted publication to this day in its original French, as well as in translations.
The author's conceit is that, even though incarcerated, he is free to travel. The mode of meandering he recommends will appeal to everyone, he insists, especially the rich, because it is so inexpensive as to cost nothing. Confined to his room, waited upon by his servant and accompanied by his dog, he roams about, finding means of escape through his imagination and the objects that trigger it.
The illustrations are by the architect Ross Anderson. They are sixteen photographs of small models of the room, its furnishings, and the author’s travelling coat, taken with a cell-phone digital camera. These low-resolution pictures are printed on translucent UV/Ultra II paper by offset lithography. The result is an elusive evocation of an interior that becomes the vast expanse of the interior of the mind.
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