• 2006-03-03
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Unsettling. The domain name of the young French Catholics’ web portal is, I’m not kidding, inXL6.org. (Hint, if you don’t get it right away: the number 6, six, is pronounced [sis].) The logo looks faintly mathematical: in X L6. And the site is even web standards compliant. Hosanna!

Via Tristan Nitot.

Via Dominique at the Petit Champignacien Illustré: The non-profit association graphê is trying to drum up support for their online petition, which asks the French state to preserve the collection and archives of the Imprimerie nationale (the national printing works), an institution that has existed since 1539 and whose premises are currently being sold off:

The historic collection it holds - due to be so dispatched - is a unique, priceless testimony of the history of the written form, from the 16th century to the present. It includes the Cabinet des poinçons, or Punch Room, holding hundred of thousands of letterform and character punches, for both western and oriental scripts; functional workshops - a foundry, presses for typography, lithography and copper-plate engraving work, stitching and binding - as well as a library with over 30,000 volumes, and the archives of the State printing works. Set up in 1539 by King Francis I, at the same time as the Collège de France, the national center of academic excellence, this collection stands as the memory of specialized know-how and expertise, and as a center for creation, now fated to disappear if its continued survival is not ensured.

Typography and its history and know-how don’t have a lobby, not even in such a relatively history-conscious place as France. The petition text is online in 26 languages.

ampersand - esperluette

Over at Crooked Timber, they are hosting a seminar on Susanna Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (book via Amazon.fr). The link goes to the introductory post, from which you can jump to individual articles, including one from the author.

It must be the very wintry autumn we’ve been having here in Paris that has me thrown more seriously into novels and sustained reading in general than I usually am. Be that as it may, I’m about a third way through with JS&MN, and it’s an intriguing, compelling book. It isn’t easy to classify, even beyond the question whether or not it’s “fantasy”. Even though the it is set in the early 19th century, I’m leaning more and more towards the opinion that it is not a historical novel: Clarke doesn’t borrow so much the England of the epoch she purports to describe, but the Victorian novel’s take on this England.

Belle Waring takes up the question that has been bugging me — who is this footnote-loving, scholarly, and most probably female narrator? — and Susanna Clarke replies in the fashion of an author: providing fascinating insight, but leaving the question ultimately open.

P.S. : I copied the pretty ampersand sign from the book’s web site.

Adobe’s site has a beautiful page about the history of the ampersand, the way it developed from a ligature of the letters e and t of the Latin word et. (Via Language Hat, who got it from aldibronti at Wordorigins.) In French, the &-sign is or used to be called pirlouette, perluette, perluète, éperluète or esperluette. […]

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