Aelfric’s Colloquy was written in England around the year 1000 to teach novice monks conversational Latin. It takes the form of a dialogue between tradespeople and laborers about whose work is the most important and useful. As they argue each describes the nature of their work, highlighting its necessity and often bemoaning its difficulties. The new translation by W.R. Johnson is arranged between the original Latin and an early Old English gloss presenting the text line by line in three languages.
It was announced in March 2012 that Aelfric’s Colloquy was one of two runners-up for the thirteenth Carl Hertzog Award for Excellence in Book Design. One judge of the competition, Bryce Milligan of Wings Press, said, “Obviously a work in homage to a beloved text, Aelfric’s Colloquy reflects the age and culture of Aelfric in its external design, the texture and color of the cover recalling rough woolen monk’s robes and the handmade box feeling very much like the consciously un-ornate wooden book covers of a monastic library’s most used texts. Both lend gravity to what some today might consider a slight text, but which really has a long and important legacy. The typography and layout echo the unusually spacious original manuscript, and its tri-lingual text is an expansion of the interlinear glosses of the original. Finally, the occasional and judicious use of color adds just the right amount of almost inexplicable levity, similar to that which one finds peeking through Aelfric’s text.”
The book is set is Palatino and Gill Sans printed letterpress in black, red, and brown on Barcham Green Sandwich calendered for a smooth finish, bound long-stitch in a cover of Gray Flax Canal from Papeterie St-Armand with end papers of Barcham Green Renaissance III, and housed in a wooden slipcase by Mario Messina. The edition is 64 pages, 9in by 6.5in, limited to 100 numbered copies. 2010