Design and direction: Jean-Renaud Dagon H325 x W235 mm, 32 unnumbered pages. Edition of 200, of which this is #67. Acquired from Le Cadratin, 6 November 2021.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.
Le Cadratin is more than a typesetting and printing house or fine press. An atelier-typographique, founded by Jean-Renaud Dagon, its artists perform tightrope acts in typography, ink, paper and form. Under Dagon’s direction, Joanne Bantick, Hugues Eynard, Nicolas Regamey and Roger Jaunin have composed and printed a rendition of Arthur Rimbaud’s sonnet “Les Voyelles” that deserves applause.
Written in 1871 by Rimbaud and first published in 1883 by Paul Verlaine, the sonnet is one of the better known historic literary examples of graphemic-color synesthesia — strongly associating a color with a letter — and in Rimbaud’s case with strong tones of eroticism. Le Cadratin’s artists leave Rimbaud’s eroticism bound to his text, handset in 28pt Roman Idéal, but deliver their own exuberance with subtle tactility and visual texture in large format wooden type using Heidelberg and Vandercook presses.
Voyelles contributes to other themes in the Books On Books Collection besides the alphabet motif. The handling of wooden type echoes David Clifford’s Letterpress Printing ABC and Andrew Morrison’s Ampersand& (2005) and Two Wood Press A-Z (2013). The synesthesia of letters is shared with Jean Holabird’s Vladimir Nabokov: AlphaBet in Color (2005)
“David Clifford“. 15 September 2021. Books On Books Collection.
“Jean Holabird“. 8 February 2022. Books On Books Collection. For a look at Vladimir Nabokov’s synesthetic alphabet.
“William Joyce“. 18 June 2021. Books On Books Collection. For the more innocent end of literary synesthesia where the cold gray-black of numbers gives way to an alphabet of jelly bean colors.”William Joyce”. 202 Books On Books Collection.
“Andrew Morrison“.15 September 2021. Books On Books Collection.
Etiemble, René. 1968. Le sonnet des voyelles: de l’audition colorée à la vision érotique. Paris: Gallimard.