Does a Book Need Text?

Text is most often the way a book conveys a narrative, but it is not the only way. Think about how the objects in this exhibition use text and paratext to record and transmit information—and see if you can identify all the objects that dispense with text entirely.

Sotvorenie Mira: Izbrannye Stikhi

Aleksandr Adreevich Prokof’ev

Sotvorenie Mira: Izbrannye Stikhi

Leningrad: Gos. izd-vo khudozh, 1931

PG3476.P75 S66 1931 Rare

Purchased on the University of Chicago Centennial Fund

The cover design for this collection of lyric poetry is by David Dvoskin, a member of the Artists’ Union of the USSR who worked for the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Dvoskin uses typography to create an arresting avant-garde design that evokes the drastic changes to village life precipitated by the October Revolution and Russian Civil War that are the themes of the poetry by Aleksandr Prokof’ev.

Imageries, “Blanche Neige”

Lavater, Warja

Paris: Adrien Maeght, 1965-1982

Purchased on the Anthony Fund for Studies in Comparative Literature

N7433.4.H66 I43 1965 Rare

The text of these Grimm’s fairy tales is not text at all but rather abstract symbols. The accordion binding and brilliant imagery work together to pull the reader along the path of these familiar narratives

Laub-Moose der Mittelmark

Friedrich Leopold Thiele

Berlin: Trowitsch u. Sohn, 1832

From the John Crerar Library, Chicago

QK544.G3T55 1832 Rare

This work of natural history from the John Crerar Library collection describes the deciduous mosses of the Mittelmark, using dried specimens in the place of text to most efficiently convey their attributes.