book, British author, culture, design, education, family, Germandesigners.net, Graphic design, Greek myths, history, Homer, Iliad, Jan Tschichold, mid century cover design, Penguin Collectors Society, Penguin pocket books, Robert Graves author, Robert Jonas book design, typography
When the great British poets write non fiction, one should take note as most of these scholars were very well versed in the “classics” be those in the Greek or Latin language. In this post, we feature such a fine example of erudite writing.
As far as the technical book aspects, we note the packaging design that is not overdone, the printing excellent, and a willingness of the publisher to educate prospective readers with an affordable price. These are all aspects for which the Penguin Books are well known. There is a surprise in this unread and immaculate second companion volume of The Greek Myths by Robert Graves.
The fold out map I would have expected in a travel guide of the same period, as the publishing date of these volumes is 1959 (third printing), but not in a pocket size book with a topic like The Greek Myths. Precious to say the least, in my opinion.
Since these are “American” Penguins (priced at $1.25) and were printed in the United States, it occurred to me that there might have been a British printing. I would love to know if that printing had a map as well? I must assume it did. Surely a member of the Penguin Collectors’ Society would know. The entire archives of the Penguin Company up to 1980 are in the Bristol University Library.
We have covered a different aspect of Robert Graves‘ work in an earlier post here.
A note on the visual aspect of the cover design: The original horizontal bands on the cover of these two volumes were either the work of the iconic German typographer and graphic designer Jan Tschichold (1902-1974) who worked for Penguin in 1946, or the work of Hans Schmoller (1916-1985) who took over that position in 1949.
Tschichold was appointed as head of design, and devised a rigorous design scheme that included illustrations on book covers.
Before we rest our case for reading the great Greeks, here is another type of paperback, as they are called in the US, as opposed to the term pocketbook.