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The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting Hardcover – November 27, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
The author's essential point is that the current state of handwriting is a far cry from what it once was. He then goes into an explanation of some of the earliest forms of writing instruments from the quill, to the fountain pen, the cartridge or refillable pen, and the advent of the roller-ball pen popularized by BIC, and let us not forget the pencil, but that does not really enter into formalized writing except as device with which to practice.
The book gets a little slow in the second half but the author has a certain dry wit and panache in explaining a subject you can tell he feels is important.
In talking about printing styles the author gives a lengthy lecture on Copperplate and notes that it was employed more for aesthetics than as a truly functional writing style. The idea was that to be considered fluid in this style of writing implied an uplift of one's moral character; i.e. a lot of practice. :) Then he talks at length about Spencerian script which he feels lead to America's Golden Age of Penmanship which he defines as the years 1850-1925. He felt that the real aim of the writing styles of the past was to restrain society by making them think there was only one of writing and if they did it any other way, they were simply doing it wrong. Of course as we learn from this work and from an earlier work called Script and Scribble Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting, which the author mentions in several places and which I can also heartily recommend.Read more ›
At school I first learnt to print, though even then we pupils knew it was not a `grown up' way to write and we loved to experiment with joining the letters. We eventually received lessons in cursive writing - or `running writing' as we called it - and were taught a form of copperplate. As I moved into teenage I tried to personalise my writing, as did most of my friends, and some of the modifications were done in order to speed up my writing, essential for taking notes in class. Today my script is looped and retains traces of copperplate, but some ascenders have been clipped and several decorative capitals have been simplified in order to speed things along. The most dramatic change has resulted from my learning to touch type over twenty years ago, causing me to largely abandon handwriting other than to take field notes or write cards for special occasions. Paucity of practice has meant my handwriting is now chaotic and less fluid, and I often have to type up written notes within a day or many of the words become illegible to me. My handwriting is also very small, the product of an obsessive teacher who made us all write two lines of script into each printed line in our exercise books in order to save paper.Read more ›
At the core of the book is a single fact capsule: Mr. Hensher likes handwriting. People do much less of it than they used to. He regrets that.
Most everything else is bubble wrap.
The author traces a meandering survey of notable handwriting teachers and their techniques. He offers plentiful doses of autobiography while wobbling along between sarcasm and slices of information. And he spends a large fraction of the book fixated on graphology, the practice of assessing a personality by the way a person forms letters of the alphabet. After what feels like an internal struggle, he eventually indicts graphology as "the occupation of idiots." Since it occupies so much of his interest, one wonders why it took him a full book to reach a verdict.
Perhaps I expected too much or something different. Ultimately, The Missing Ink is book-length lament. The best part is the last chapter he calls "What Is to Be Done?" and for several pages he lists practical measures to help handwriting survive. That would have been enough. The rest of the book is too much about much other.
convinced that if we only type on a computer..we will become more
stupid than we are...the hand needs to work in all directions!
I'm surprised that the monumental book "The Stroke: Theory of Writing" by Gerrit Noordzij is not cited anywhere, neither is Robert Bringhurst's "What Is Reading For".
Here is a passage from Noordzij's I'd like to share: Any writing of any civilization begins with the stroke, and the stroke is made with the tool, and if you have a stiff tool, then the shape of the tool dominates the character of your writing, and with a soft tool the impulse of your hand dominates the writing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is discursive: parts worthwhile, parts irrelevant, parts solipsistic. If you’re interested in handwriting or related topics (including Copperplate, Fraktur, the Palmer... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Anson Cassel Mills
When the book arrived, I decided to page through it to have a quick look. Half an hour later, I was still reading and very engrossed in one of my favorite subjects and activities:... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Book Maven
The tragic decline of handwriting has proved almost impossible to halt. Digit fidget has triumphed, and the thumb dance is seen universally - on public transport, at the bus stop... Read morePublished 11 months ago by James W Martin
It was not an easy read but I'm glad I read it. I'll take more pleasure today when I write out my grocery list. Read morePublished 18 months ago by M. Anderson
Phillip Hensher’s highly readable book, The Missing Ink, contrives to inspire the revival of handwriting. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Mtutuzeli Nyoka
Lot of the information in the book was speculative -- as some other reviewers had suggested. Some of the language was a bit gratuitous, but overall there was some informative and... Read morePublished 24 months ago by My Penny's Worth