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Best books 2006

Large de 2006 binding2

Robin Kinross / 2007.06.27

This year’s catalogues for the best-designed/-produced books have been appearing. The Swiss catalogue for books issued in 2006 is just published. The German catalogue for the same period came out some weeks ago. The British publication, also carrying the designation ‘2006’, was produced towards the end of last year. The Dutch best-books catalogue is on its way, and will cover books published in 2006. With the exception of the British publication, these catalogues describe and discuss books that are put on exhibition in their own countries, and which are also, in the autumn, added to a showing at the Frankfurt Book Fair of all the world’s best-books of that preceding year. A proper survey of the best-books exhibitions would take in all the countries represented at Frankfurt, including (as I recall) Finland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, the United States, Spain. These remarks are addressed to the countries with which I am most familiar. Read more

A new Zurich Bible

Large zuerich bible inhand

2007.10.30

The Zurich Bible was published in a new translation this year. This is the Bible in its Swiss-Protestant text, first published in 1531. Not only is it a bestseller (26,000 copies sold since June), but it must be one of the best-looking and best-made books published anywhere for some time. Some bare statistics of the edition shown here hint at its qualities: weighs 1 kg, page size is 20 × 13 cm, number of pages is 1,950. This edition sells for €13.80. Read more

Benjamins

Large benjamin archive cover

Robin Kinross / 2008.08.22

Now that every word that Walter Benjamin published in his lifetime has been collected and republished, and now that his many unfinished words have been similarly collected and printed, and now that to this set of ‘collected writings’ we can add letters and diaries that he cannot have thought of publishing, there only remains to be transcribed and multiplied the scraps, cards, sheets, that fill up the rest of his archive. Read more

‘The most beautiful Swiss books’

2008.11.13

Further to the last post, we can mention an exhibition of this year’s ‘most beautiful [what most of the rest of the world knows as ’best-designed’] Swiss books’. From 19 to 30 November 2008 these books will be shown at Cafe Oto in Dalston. The exhibition is hosted by the Helvetic Centre and several talks and discussions will accompany the event. In the afternoon of Saturday 29 November there will be an open discussion in the exhibition with Jost Hochuli, Ron Costley, and James Goggin.

Benjamin and Brecht in English

Large benjaminbrecht cover

Robin Kinross / 2009.09.29

Last Thursday the London publisher Libris brought out Erdmut Wizisla’s Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht: the story of a friendship. This is an English-language edition of the book published originally by Suhrkamp. Behind that edition was a first embodiment, as its author’s doctoral thesis. The translation from thesis to book is a difficult one, and a process that is rarely resolved well. The transmutation of such a complex book from one language into another is also a difficult business. Some of the issues raised by these endeavours have been brought up, also in connection with Walter Benjamin’s writings, in two previous posts here, in August and December of last year. Read more

Best Swiss books in London

2009.10.20

The Helvetic Centre in London is again organizing a show of the ‘most beautiful Swiss books’. The exhibition opens this Sunday with a party – guest speaker Laurenz Brunner – and runs for just four days at Cafe Oto in Dalston. On Thursday 29th, the last evening, there will be a round-table discussion of questions raised by the show. Also on display will be some of the best British books of the year. They should offer instructive contrasts with the Swiss books; certainly this will provide a very rare sighting of a cultural phenomenon once discussed on this website.