Jessica Hundley

Författare till Tarot. The Library of Esoterica

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The first volume in Taschen’s Library of Esoterica, Tarot, is a beautifully illustrated book that spared every expense on editing.

First the good. This book is beautiful, an exceedingly lovely physical object to hold in one’s hands and flip through, repeatedly—which is exactly what I’ve done since I acquired it. The layout is gorgeous. The illustrations, representing a wide variety of Tarot decks created from the 1400s to 2018, are gorgeous.

The volume devotes 335 pages to the 22 Major Arcana, presenting illustrations from roughly 15 or so decks or related art for each card in the Majors. The Minor Arcana receive somewhat less attention, with only 63 pages for their 56 cards. Although I would have loved to see as many examples of the Minor Arcana, this is understandable: many decks pay considerably more attention to the Majors, and Taschen needed to keep the physical book to a manageable size. Obviously, both sections feature cards from historically significant decks produced during the Renaissance and early 19th century occult flowering. It’s unclear what criteria Taschen used to select examples from the mid-20th century on: sometimes only a single card from a deck is featured, while half a dozen or more cards are featured from others. The examples are an excellent mix of media, styles, and deck traditions; it’s fascinating to see the breadth of art produced within the same 78-card framework, and fun to speculate on why specific cards were chosen.

For both Majors and Minors, a caption introduces basic details about the artist, and deck or artwork, for almost every illustration. The author(s) took pains to rephrase this information for artists whose work appears several times in the book—a lovely attention to detail that readers, like me, who read the book cover to cover will quickly come to appreciate. The essays that bookend the Arcana sections are informative and fun to read. So that’s the good.

Now, the bad. Proofreading, what is it? We at Taschen just don’t know.

We’re not just talking a lack of stylistic consistency in the use of italics or capitalization. We’re talking one or more spelling, grammar, or typesetting errors on almost every page. We’re talking so many, commas, in places they don’t belong. We’re talking grammatically mangled sentences. Judging from the prevalence of badily mistpelled words, we’re talking not even having spellchecked the manuscript.

It’s a level of sloppiness one expects from a $0.99 self-published eBook, not a $40 art book from a boutique publisher.

To conclude: Tarot will delight lovers of Tarot history and illustration. Be prepared for some frustration if you value the written word as much as the visual arts. For those focused primarily on the illustrations, or willing to overlook the lackadaisical editing, this book is top notch.
… (mer)
Trismegistus | Apr 17, 2021 |

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