Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I recently discovered, via a Google image search for the frontispiece on a rare edition of Borges' Library of Babel (I love the fortuitous linkages that can happen while searching for things online, like a Surrealist party game), the smart and delightful feuilleton blog. There I found some of the loveliest ornaments I've ever seen on the cover of a 1945 edition of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

In addition to the repetition of the motif, the uneven delicacy of the ornament offers a sense of a hand-picked bouquet carefully arranged around an afternoon table, or an archaic stringed instrument that produces a thin reedy lilt. As John Coulthart notes, the backwards-swinging "y" is especially enchanting, and is so cleverly employed for this story of wayward time and its consequences.