Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Binding books


The deckle edge dates back to a time when you used to need a knife to read a book... The printing happened on large sheets of paper which were then folded into rectangles the size of the finished pages and bound. The reader then sliced open the folds.

This volume’s pages are uncut: a first obstacle opposing your impatience (or another reason to hesitate?!). Armed with a good paper knife, you prepare to penetrate its secrets. With a determined slash you cut your way between the title page and the beginning of the first chapter.

I've never seen one of these books and really wasn't sure if they existed. This article, in addition to being timely, also reminded me of the library scene in The Great Gatsby.

From here: Gatsby's library is an inside view of the background of his intellect. At one of Gatsby's great parties, Nick enters Gatsby's library and converses with some other guests. One man in particular is infinitely impressed with the fact that all of the books in Gatsby's library are real. The pages in the books are not even cut; they are in the same condition as when he bought them. Those books have never been opened or read. Fitzgerald shows that Gatsby has all this knowledge at his disposal, yet does not use it, remaining in his ignorant state of complacency. Fitzgerald uses Gatsby's complacency to reflect the same sense of self-satisfaction shared by the generation of the times.

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