Kafka as a Framework for Understanding Warde's Crystal Goblet: The Author as Reader and the Design of the Printed Page

By Bradley Coulter.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 9, 2015 $US5.00

While disappearance is an important theme when considering Kafka, it is one that can be easily overlooked in describing the spiritual inter-connectedness of his self-conscious disappearance, writing, and the discipline of typography. Type seeks to hide itself in plain view, to become, as type scholar Beatrice Warde now famously called it, “The Crystal Goblet,” a product of careful engineering and artistry that, as a package for the written word, becomes almost invisible. Similarly, Kafka’s self-consciousness compels him toward his own invisibility as a reader, to assert himself on the page as much as possible solely as a writer. Through a close interpretation of the role of consciousness in Kafka’s work, aided by type designer and historian Gerrit Noordzij’s Stroke Theory of writing, Kafka’s self-conscious urge toward invisibility provides an excellent case study for exploring Warde’s philosophy, its practical and spiritual implications, and why an expanded interpretation of the Crystal Goblet may be vital in framing solutions to visual rhetorical challenges presented by emerging technologies and applications.

Keywords: Franz Kafka, Beatrice Warde, Crystal Goblet, Typography, Typefaces, Author as Reader, Reader as Author, Literary Theory, Literary Criticism, Writing, Page Design, Book Design

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 13, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.1-7. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 9, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 389.134KB)).

Bradley Coulter

Graduate Instructor, School of Art and Art History, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA


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