448 pages, 8 × 5.42 × 0.94 in
August 5, 2014
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0804171637
ISBN - 13: 9780804171632
Read from the Book
“A proposition is a picture of reality. a proposition is a model of reality as we imagine it.”—Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus“I don't think I shall ever forget my first sight of Hercule Poirot. of course, i got used to him later on, but to begin with it was a shock... i don't know what i'd imagined ... of course, i knew he was a foreigner, but i hadn't expect- ed him to be quite as foreign as he was, if you know what i mean. When you saw him you just wanted to laugh! he was like something on the stage or at the pictures.”—Agatha Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia“Writing ... is but a different name for conversation. as no one, who knows what he is about in good compa- ny, would venture to talk all; so no author, who under- stands the just boundaries of decorum and good breed- ing, would presume to think all: the truest respect which you can pay to the reader’s understanding is to halve this matter amicably, and leave him something to imagine, in his turn, as well as yourself.”—Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman“Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well as she is famed to do, deceiving elf.”—John Keats, Ode to a NightengalePICTURING"PICTURING"i could begin with Lily Briscoe.Lily Briscoe—“With her little Chinese eyes and her puckered up face...”—is a principle character in Vir- ginia Woolf's novel To the Lighthouse. Lily is a painter. She is painting a picture throughout the course of the narrative—a painting of mrs. Ramsey sittin
From the Publisher
A San Francisco Chronicle and Kirkus Best Book of the Year
A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading—how we visualize images from reading works of literature, from one of our very best book jacket designers, himself a passionate reader.
What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? The collection of fragmented images on a page—a graceful ear there, a stray curl, a hat positioned just so—and other clues and signifiers helps us to create an image of a character. But in fact our sense that we know a character intimately has little to do with our ability to concretely picture our beloved—or reviled—literary figures. In this remarkable work of nonfiction, Knopf's Associate Art Director Peter Mendelsund combines his profession, as an award-winning designer; his first career, as a classically trained pianist; and his first love, literature—he considers himself first and foremost as a reader—into what is sure to be one of the most provocative and unusual investigations into how we understand the act of reading.
About the Author
Peter Mendelsund is the associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf and a recovering classical pianist. His designs have been described by The Wall Street Journal as being “the most instantly recognizable and iconic book covers in contemporary fiction.” He lives in New York.
Praise for What We See When We Read: “A playful, illustrated treatise on how words give rise to mental images. . . . Mendelsund argues that reading is an act of co-creation, and that our impressions of characters and places owe as much to our own memory and experience as to the descriptive powers of authors. . . . [What We See When We Read] explore[s] the peculiar challenges of transforming words into images, and blend[s] illustrations with philosophy, literary criticism and design theory.” —Alexandra Alter, The New York Times“Mendelsund, throughout this thought-provoking book, helps the lay reader contemplate text in ways you hadn’t thought about previously.” —Los Angeles Times“A conversation piece, created to entice repeated thumb-throughs. . . . [The author is] a highly regarded book-jacket designer. . . . Reading is often considered (especially by those who don’t love to do it) a passive activity. But Cambridge native Mendelsund . . . makes a nice case that it is, in fact, a kind of active collaboration. . . . What We See When We Read, itself a work of conceptual design, unfolds the author’s ideas about what makes reading a creative, visual act all its own on pages—some packed with text, others just a line or two—that incorporate sketches, clip art, images of classic book covers and more.” —The Boston Globe "A welcome and fascinating new book." —The New York Review of Books “The liveliest, most entertaining and best illustrated work of phenomenology you'll pick up this