October 22, 2020

Do paper books matter?

Susie Leiper, 65

A paper book is a sensual object: the visual impact of the cover, the tactility of paper and binding, the fragile crackle as the book is opened, the smell of fresh print. Not so the e-book. Our senses need stimulating. Nobody believed this more than Nan Shepherd who devotes a whole chapter in The Living Mountain to the senses, inviting us to engage them in nature. Nan’s enthusiasm for both the physical and the philosophical attraction of the mountain is compelling. I want to intensify her enthusiasm, to bring a new and sensual excitement to her text. Twenty-five years as a calligrapher and painter have given me the tenacity to create this large handwritten and illustrated copy of The Living Mountain. Perhaps it will one day be printed and published to reach a wider audience. Nobody writes this much any more; few people know what it feels like. To copy out a text day after day, like a medieval scribe, enables a slow and deliberate engagement with the words, and this in turn can have a moving effect on the reader. Nature is sensual. The paper book is sensual. We need them both right now.

The Living Mountain, 2020Paper, ink, oil paint, resist, palladium leafEach double spread, 41 x 66 cm