Borges Short Story

msilverz's picture

I have typeset Borges' wonderful short (and I mean short) story "Borges and I" as a supplement to an article in the online academic journal I'm working on. I was hoping the experts here could take a look at what I've done and give me any suggestions that come to mind. The single page must be 8 1/2 x 11. Other than that, I have no real restrictions.

A couple of things to consider:

1. I chose Baskerville MT due to the reference to 18th-century typography in the story. Any suggestions for something more appropriate? (I have a limited set of fonts to work with, but I might be able to purchase something new if it is not too expensive.)

2. Is the initial capital too dark? Is the kerning of the characters around it OK?

Thanks in advance for any comments and suggestions.


Borges and I - Column.pdf30.86 KB
Borges and I - Test.pdf30.59 KB
Gary Long's picture

Actually, my main quibble with what you've got there is, the text measure is too wide for optimum reading comfort, even with the generous leading you've given it. Aim for a maximum of around 60 characters per line. With the constraint of a single 8.5x 11 page, you might consider making the column narrower, pushed to the right, with the title and author top left in the resulting wide left margin, and the footnote bottom left. You can reduce the leading a bit if necessary to fit the text on.

I like Baskerville and can't complain about that. I think the initial cap is fine.

Ehague's picture

Baskerville is fine.

Other ideas for faces:
Borges from PampaType
Borges ornaments from Sudtipos.
And don't forget about the spectrum of Caslons (also 18th century) available.

Ditto on Gary's measure comments.

Ehague's picture

Also, though it'd be stealing to use this I guess, I really liked the Bernhard Modern titles used in the older English translation of Ficciones.

Nick Shinn's picture

I suspect it may be the long "s" and quaints (ct, st ligatures) which attracts that particular Borges to 18th century typography.
Therefore Adobe Caslon would be a good choice, as it has a full complement of long-s ligatures.
If you're going to be pretentious, don't be coy.
Or perhaps it is the patina of age that appeals, in which case the subtle distress of Founder's Caslon would fit the bill.
If it is the baroque quality of letterform,something from Storm, such as Serapion.

msilverz's picture

Thanks for the suggestion, Gary. I'll give something like that a try. The person for whom I'm working may balk at such a "radical" approach, but I'll see if I can convince him. (I tried narrowing the measure and keeping it centered on the page, but there was just too much white space on either side. Your proposal will at least solve that problem.)

Normally, when I'm stuck working with 8.5 x 11 paper, I work with a landscape-oriented page and use two columns. But I didn't think I could make that work with such a small block of text.

Nick, unfortunately I have no idea what aspect of 18th-century typography the narrator in Borges' story likes. I think that the long-s's and quaint ligatures would be a bit over the top for an academic journal, though. (And so I think I'll just continue to assume that he likes the neoclassical orderliness of Baskerville!)

Ehague's picture

>>I have no idea what aspect of 18th-century typography the narrator in Borges’ story likes.

You could comb through some of his pieces that predate "Borges and I" to look for references to 18th-century texts, which might at least grant insight into a fraction of the typography from that era to which he was exposed.

Edit: Which would be silly.

msilverz's picture

I've replaced the attachment above. This new version ("Column") is my first crack at the two column layout suggested by Gary. I like the idea, but I don't think I've executed it very well. I'm wondering about:

1. The initial cap. Does it clash with the slightly smaller title, which is right next to it?

2. The publication information in the sidenote. Should it be full justified?

3. The vertical placement on the page. Should everything be shifted down?

msilverz's picture

I've added yet another version ("Test"), with the text moved down the page (and with much less leading). Is there some place else I could or should put the title? Lower in the left hand column? Above the text? Centered?

Gary Long's picture

I like the version better where the beginning of the story is below the title and author. I would left justify the title/author sequence as you have with the footnote (don't justify that--it's too narrow). In this case I don't see the initial cap conflicting with the title. You might pull the title and the text up higher on the page, so that the footnote is below the text. This would set the text block off better.

With the title in roman and the author in italics, I think you can dispense with the "by", as it's clear this is the title and the author. That would elimnate the awkward whitespace created by having "by" on its own line. Or you could put the "by" directly in front of the author's name.

You could reduce the leading a couple of points in the footnote.

msilverz's picture

Thanks, Gary, for all of those great suggestions. I'm grateful for all of your help!

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