This new edition of Tristram Shandy is the first book published by Visual Editions: a new London-based book publisher of literary fiction and non-fiction who make use of what they call visual writing”. They believe books should be as visually compelling as the stories they tell, and their strapline is great looking stories”. Their aim to publish Shandy as their first title, is to show where the idea of visual writing” originated, to show where it all began.
The idea is to bring out the book’s brilliance and playfulness again, to dust it down from its shoddy Dover Classics image and make it accessible and relevant again to a more contemporary audience. Visual Editions asked the designers to breathe new life into the book and told the designers to add new visual elements in as well. As long as they stayed faithful to Sterne’s spirit, then VE were happy to let the designers roam.
And so they did: a shut door is a folded page, perspiration is pages of dotted spot varnish and the marbled page is a moire of a black and white photograph (a nod to contemporary printing technologies, in the way that the marbled page was a result of technologies of the time).
British author Will Self introduces the book, with the typically wonderful irreverance that Sterne himself would have loved.