Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why Renaissance Typography Is Awesome Sometimes

















The "Descending" or "Long S" is ubiquitous in Renaissance publications; a holdover from Carolingian minuscule handwriting and black letter print. Usually, it just makes reading original texts a bit more difficult, but on rare occasions, when you least expect it, the EEBO Gods will give you a spectacular typographical gift. Therefore, I give you examples of the "long s" paired with variations of the totally innocent word "suck." The results -- outstanding.

I, for one, can't wait to "fuck the abundance of the seas." Can you? And even though it was common to begin words starting with "s" like this well into the 17th century, you know that the typesetters had to have known what they were doing. (Try as I might, I couldn't find the line about the "sucking babe" that began my obsession with the long s, but I remember it made me laugh out loud. In a library. As I was looking at EEBO. It was awesome and depressing all at the same time. At that moment, I came up with this hilarious and soon to be popular insult: "SUCK YOU! WITH A LONG 'S'!" (Man, I'm funny.) I'll leave you with an awesome Shakespearian example:

Whoa, Friar Laurence, slow down! You're a man of the cloth, for Christ's sake!

12 comments:

Liza said...

There's a glorious one in the First Folio: "A Knot you are, of damn├ęd Blood-Fuckers."

(I loue thy Blog well i'faith. It doth not fuck.)

BLAKE said...

flat stanley loves lol manuscripts and his name begins with a long S!

tjarrett said...

Whatever you do, do not Google sucking babe. Oh my flipping goodness. Here I was thinking I would find some nice archaic manuscripts....

Lea said...

I have posted a couple of instances of this wonderful phenomenon here. It's one of those things that will never stop being funny.

Kate said...

You just made me laugh out loud at work, which is even worse than in a library because explaining the bloud-fucking Cavaliers to my other cubicle mates is, um, awkward.

Love the blog. I get all excited when I see a new post in my feed reader .

Sarah Redmond said...

In Henry IV Part I, Falstaff has a line about "a rabbit-sucker" that I really wanted to find, but those damn quartos don't have acts and scenes.

Oh Falftaff!

danielle said...

I printed it out for Susie...thought of bringing it down to the other end of the office to show off--cause it's awesome (and awesome is in a sing-song voice).

Lea said...

I found the Falstaff rabbit-fucker line!

Here it is.

Here is an alternate image from the Folio which is funnier because it's all on one line.

Mdb said...

Yup, I've been making this point in teaching Donne's "The Flea" for a while now: "It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee, / And in this flea our two bloods mingled be." Like Donne didn't know what he was doing...

Sarah Redmond said...

Oh fhakefpeare! I don't know which is worse: A rabbit-sucker or rabbit-fucker. (just kidding...bestiality is much worse than putting things in your mouth and/or breastfeeding them).

And I had forgotten about "The Flea"! Now I want to start a Database called "Early Modern Examples of the Long S that accidentally spell the word Fuck." It will change the face of scholarship.

goclenius said...

You forgot “where the bee ſucks, there ſuck I”. Somewhere I have actually seen the ambiguity of this line (in old style typography) seriously discussed by a Shakespeare scholar.

Elizabeth said...

Your blog may be the most awesome thing I've found on the web in a long time. Thanks for the Renaissance highjinks. Keep 'em coming.