Notes Reading Notes

The Golden Notebook

By Doris Lessing, 1962

On Presentation

By today’s standards of visual communication, most people would expect the notebooks to be presented in their literal graphic form, rather than annotated with meta text describing what they look like.

In our current cultural mode of thinking, we see the book as an interface. This interface is an intimidating wall of text set in Times with standard leading and line breaks. In this sense—although The Golden Notebook is undoubtably a masterpiece and one of the most innovative novels of the mid 20th century—it hasn’t dated particularly well. The lack of attention to visual detail and care in typography reflecting the architecture of the book really lets it down. Its form doesn’t follow its function.

Stand on Zanzibar suffers from a similar problem, though perhaps not quite as bad as this. Worth considering whether a book of this scale was simply too expensive to tidy up before digital typesetting came about.