28 May 2012

One of Those True Book-Lovers

Johan Huizinga, Erasmus and the Age of Reformation (New York: Harper & Row, 1957), p. 63:
From Bologna, in October 1507, Erasmus addressed a letter to the famous Venetian printer, Aldus Manutius, in which he requested him to publish, anew, the two translated dramas of Euripides, as the edition of Badius was out of print and too defective for his taste. What made Aldus attractive in his eyes was, no doubt, besides the fame of the business, though it was languishing at the time, the printer's beautiful type -- "those most magnificent letters, especially those very small ones". Erasmus was one of those true book-lovers who pledge their heart to a type or a size of a book, not because of any artistic preference, but because of readableness and handiness, which to them are of the very greatest importance. 
I believe Bembo is based on the typeface Erasmus admired.