To describe the world more fully is to change it. To let the world go undescribed is, in some way, not to know it, at one’s own peril. ‘The Age of Innocence’ opens in ‘a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs.’ In the course of the novel, Wharton puts those ‘real things’ into thought and writing….In a way, every age is an age of innocence, because every age has its own unsaid, half-known truths, which are articulated more clearly over time. Even after the particular circumstances described in a novel have vanished, we can still recognize ourselves and our lives in them.
It’s not easy to find the right symbol, much less find a lesser-used symbol: if you look at other editions of The Scarlet Letter, the vast majority use the red ‘A.’ It’s impossible to avoid using it, really, so I did use the red ‘A’ – but in the title itself and on a red background, so it is invisible. I’m just trying to find ways to make a person stop, think, and reevaluate this book. Perhaps these symbols intrigue them enough to get them to read.
I was interviewed about Gladstone Press’s mandate, how the designs happen, etc. on All Lit Up’s blog. You can read it here.
The Scarlet Letter is particularly germane for anyone looking around at contemporary America and wondering how it got to this point. Though the story may be fanciful – Hawthorne called it a “romance” – it is nonetheless based in the reality of its day. Outside of the four central characters, Paulson points out, every named figure in the novel is a real historical personage. “He wanted it to work as a moral tale,” Paulson says. “But he also didn’t want anyone to think that he had made up anything else that was just so weird about the Massachusetts Bay colony.”
– Steven W. Beattie, Quill & Quire Omni, August 29, 2019
I talked with Steven W. Beattie at Quill & Quire about why I’m publishing The Scarlet Letter now, how it relates to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and what’s with the missing ‘A’ (I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s not really missing, it’s just the same colour as the background). You can find the article here [subscriber only] .
Deborah Dundas, The Star’s books editor, dropped by the first anniversary party for Gladstone Press (held at my go-to book store, Type Books on Queen Street West in Toronto – thank you for everything you do to support my wee press!). Even though the article says otherwise, I was too nervous to drink before giving my speech, so I was holding sparkling water. The wine followed soon after the speech… You can read about our conversation here.
The act could be considered brazen or brave (or both): launching an independent publishing house in 2018 that focuses on classic titles, but with a modern reader in mind. But Ingrid Paulson, who’s been in the book industry for 20 years, primarily as an art director, knows what it takes to catch a prospective reader’s eye.
I talked with Maryam Siddiqi at The Globe and Mail about starting Gladstone Press, what thought goes into the design of these covers, and design in general. You can read it here [for subscribers].
And when I heard that Mrs. Dalloway would be the first of their 2019 releases, I was ecstatic, because I love this book, a book I’ve returned to several times since I first learned to read Virginia Woolf (for me, it was not instinctual) twenty years ago when I was an undergraduate. It’s funny, because while I like to read in a stream of literary consciousness, the act of actually reading stream-of-consciousness is not my ideal. Because it’s hard and you have to pay attention and nothing’s fastened you to the plot so you have to do all that work yourself. But I can do it with Woolf, with Mrs. Dalloway. Not getting too caught up in the details, letting the atoms fall where they may. It takes practice, and confidence, and patience, but I find it so rewarding. And easier too in a book that’s brand-spanking new, with a map even…