Friday, June 21, 2013

Foucault at Minnesota

Jacket spread and title page spread of a new book (or more accurately, one never translated into English before) by Michel Foucault (1926-1984) from University of Minnesota Press. The title of this English version is Speech Begins after Death. The text is from a series of interviews Foucault gave in 1968, when his fame was a fresh phenomenon and he was not yet widely recognized as "the most influential thinker of the late twentieth century." I want to read the book, when the library copy is ready, but in the meantime am admiring the design, bold in a way Foucault would have approved. The two things I like best are  1). the red overlay rising up the front cover like a flood-tide (drowning the figure of the author at his study table), and 2). the way everything on the title page runs into a rectangle justified on both sides (equivalent in dimensions to author photo) eschewing the hierarchical typography  that characterizes every other title page I can think of, traditional or contemporary. It seems to me that the innovative spirit underpinning these designs also signals the difference between non-profit and for-profit publishing. No commercial publisher would be likely to confound the reader's expectations  1). that any cover-image will be easily legible rather than subtly symbolic, and 2). that a title page will readily instruct the eye about the relative importance of the units that compose it.