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Frederic W. Goudy once said:
"If there were an individual, readily recognized quality or characteristic which the type designer could incorporate in drawings that would make any one type more beautiful, legible, or distinguished than another, it is obvious that only type of that kind would be produced."
I understood this statement to mean that if a simple stylistic attribute - such as more or less stroke contrast, a larger or smaller x-height, sharper serifs, or more cowbell - could make a typeface better, then everyone would do it that way. But that we can also be sure that, since typefaces don't all exhibit the same obvious characteristics, there is no shortcut to quality, and the quest for one is chimeric.
And so, when I read on in Anatomy of a Typeface to see Alexander S. Lawson write
"This statement was made by Frederic W. Goudy, a man who spent more than fifty years of his life in pursuit of that 'recognized quality' in a printing type."
... as opposed to actually pursuing real *quality* in the typefaces he designed, rather than wasting fifty years pursuing a false shortcut... I was shocked and annoyed.
Am I getting overly exercised over a minor lapse in reading comprehension (probably occasioned by forgetting that in addition to "quality" in the sense of merit and soundness, it also has the meaning of an attribute or characteristic) or have I somehow misconstrued Goudy's words?