Sunday, 15 March 2015

In The Land Of Punctuation

In Land Of Punctuation

Christian Morgenstern & Rathna Ramanathan





Written in 1905 by German poet Christian Morgenstern, In The Land Of Punctuation is a brilliantly dark piece of linguistic caprice that has been given new life by design guru Rathna Ramanathan.  Now we here at the Illustrated Forest fully acknowledge our endless gushing about Tara Books' publications, but once again find ourselves unable to do anything but praise another of their spectacular offerings.


This is a book that not only brings punctuation to life, it kills it as well.  Each punctuation mark is bestowed its own personality; the semi-colons the victims, the question marks the cowards, the commas and full stops the aggressors and the dashes the most violent of them all.  Laid before us we see a world of violence, isolation and yet more violence, and we are reminded of the stark similarities of our own behaviour.  Written before both world wars, Morgenstern’s observations are uncannily accurate, made all the more real by Ramanathan’s accompanying imagery.  And what imagery it is. 


A book about war written by a German poet would naturally suit a colour palette of red, black and white and that’s what we’re presented with here.  The large expanse of the white pages gives way to the warring black and red punctuations as their numbers fill the pages and battles take place.  When the warring factions collide we begin to view punctuation in a whole new light; we forget what they are and instead place on them human characteristics.  No more so is this apparent than when we mourn the deaths of the semi-colons - their cemetery a poignant reminder as to the futility of war.  Ramanathan’s genius (and there can be no doubting her genius here), is such that In The Land Of Punctuation evokes a complete sense of time and space, it’s a world as familiar to us as our own, with characters as obvious to us as any human.  And though the story takes over we never escape that what’s presented before us is beautiful design at work.  You can’t fail to notice the symmetry, the manipulation of scale, the repeated patterns and the importance of empty space that has been created by Ramanathan’s hand.  Each mark made has been purposefully considered and as such we are able to relish in a book that is as much about graphic design as it is about the crossroads of language and politics.


What makes this book even more impressive is that it comes as a signed, limited edition hand-bound book created through silkscreen printing.  You are able to feel the ink across the page, you can see where the ink has failed to register and most importantly you can see the level of care that will have gone into the creation of every single one of these books.  It is an item created with integrity, with no corners cut and nothing spared and the result is magnificent.  Picture books may be considered the fodder of children, but In The Land Of Punctuation exemplifies how picture books for adults can evoke the same sense of awe and wonderment as those picture books we remember from our childhood.  


As relevant today as when it was first penned in 1905, In The Land Of Punctuation is a darkly funny reminder as to the absurdity of human nature, presented before us in the most dazzlingly striking of ways.


All that’s left to say is that when it comes to perfection, this book is it. 

1 comment:

  1. Writing is an art and we have to follow it's basic rules. Likewise complete sentence checker we can be able to have perfect essays and papers.

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