Why Aldine?

My blog is named after Aldus Manutius, the 15th century Venetian printer who supervised the creation of the Italic fount and popularized the octavo format outside of religious works (the format in which most of our books today are published–usually just a bit smaller than our modern hardcover).

Aldus played a major role in the making classics accessible after the invention of printing. He printed many of the great Greek authors for the first time, and his pioneering of the octavo format made books more convenient to a wider public.

Aldus himself was a scholar who befriended the best editors and professors of the day to create these works. His printing press was the hub for scholars, humanists, and anyone dedicated to literature. You can read more about Aldus here, an article I wrote for Simon Fraser University’s digitization project of the Wosk-McDonald Aldine Collection.

Aldus’s printer’s device is the famed anchor and dolphin, the allegorical figure for the ancient saying Festina Lente. Sir Thomas Browne translates festina lente as “Celerity contempered with cunctation.” Since that’s an abomination of alliteration, let’s just translate it as “make haste slowly.” In other words, work really fast, but be thorough and deliberate with your work. Aldus knew the importance of getting out as many works as possible, but he refused to sacrifice quality.

My blog is Aldine because I hope it will make the classics, and rare books, more accessible. I hope it can be a hub for book lovers. And I hope that my random thoughts on books show a bit of quality, here and there. Happy reading.

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