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ktinkel
11-12-2005, 01:07 PM
Gerrit Noordzij is a graphic designer, teacher, and writer whose theories and classes in letter design have influenced many (perhaps most) of today’s Dutch type designers. Now what may be his most important writing on that topic has been translated into English and released by Hyphen Press — The stroke: Theory of writing (http://www.hyphenpress.co.uk/titles/stroke/index.html). (It is listed with Amazon in the U.S. but shown as not yet published.)

Noordzij refuses any notion that type and handwriting are distinct and separate — with some vehemence. For example, this snippet is typical:
Pedagogues pride themselves on the fact that they do not burden school children with an introduction to writing. In so doing they undermine western civilization at its foundation. The frightening increase in illiteracy begins with the neglect of writing in the schools.
This position has recently become controversial in some quarters. But wherever you stand on the theory of type, The Stroke — which begins with “The white of the word” and goes on from there to discuss issues of letter and type design — is provocative and make it easier to understand what makes type work.

I think it belongs in the type designer’s (and maybe even the type user’s) essential library.

If you’re making up a holiday gift list, you might also consider Noordzij’s Letterletter: An inconsistent collection of tentative theories that do not claim any other authority than that of common sense (http://www.stoutbooks.com/cgi-bin/stoutbooks.cgi/44708.html). (Also available from Hyphen Press in the U.K. and Europe.)