Streams

How Words on a Page Become Images in Our Minds

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reading Peter Mendelsund, Knopf's associate art director, explores how we visualize images from reading works of literature. (Copyright: LoloStock/Shutterstock)

Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? As readers, our ability to create an image of a character doesn’t really depend on our ability to see a  picture of them. Peter Mendelsund, Knopf's associate art director, explores how we visualize images from reading works of literature. He combines his profession as an award-winning designer, his first career as a classically trained pianist, and his love of literature to write a provocative and unusual investigations into how we understand the act of reading—What We See When We Read. He’ll also talk about the art of book design, and his book Cover.

Knopf
House of Meetings by Martin Amis. From Cover by Peter Mendelsund
Knopf
C by Tom McCarthy. From Cover by Peter Mendelsund
Vintage
The Republic by Plato. From Cover by Peter Mendelsund
Knopf
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. From Cover by Peter Mendelsund
Courtesy of Vintage Books
The Man Who Hated Women by Stieg Larsson. From Cover by Peter Mendelsund

Guests:

Peter Mendelsund

Comments [4]

Jim B

I think the Dragon Tattoo movie picked up on the blood theme for the opening credits!

Aug. 20 2014 01:19 PM
Alex from Brooklyn

I am an artist who works primarily in text, so font design is at the forefront of my visual and conceptual concerns. But I also worked as an art framer for about seven years. Much like how I think a book jacket should function, my main concern in helping clients to choose a frame for their artwork was to make the frame disappear. A frame serves the purpose to present (and preserve) the art, but should never distract from the work--or, like a book jacket, influence the reading or understanding of the piece. Subtlety is always key, though more difficult to achieve than it would seem.

Aug. 20 2014 01:18 PM

>> Roger Moore is too gentile, too polite to be James Bond - Ever!

I totally agree. But he was PERFECT as The Saint.

Aug. 20 2014 01:08 PM

Tell you what I don't see...

Roger Moore is too gentile, too polite to be James Bond - Ever! (Only kids and folks who haven't picked up a James Bond thriller could accept him.)

Paul Bettany is too fair and too tall to be Stephen Maturin. Although Crowe was a good Aubrey and Heath Ledger(RIP) would have been even better! Tim Roth would have worked better as Maturin.

Aug. 20 2014 12:35 PM

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