Thursday, September 15, 2011


'In the beginning', and, 'Genesis'.

In On heroes, hero-worship and the heroic in history Thomas Carlyle makes several references to the 'divine . . .' and 'sacred Hebrew Book'. In Sartor Resartus he refers to 'young Ishmael' in the 'destitution of the wild desert'. Throughout both books he includes many biblical references and allusions. For my illustrations, I looked for a quotation, and then searched for an original source – and I found Hebrew texts.

The history, meaning and beauty of the letterforms are fascinating and I began to draw and learn a little of the Alephbet. The first problem I encountered was the inability of Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign to render the text as right to left (RTL) reading. Curiously my Firefox browser, Apple Mail and TextEdit did work, which helped when using the Hebrew keyboard layout.

Secondly, my insatiable thirst for language was hampered by a new alphabet and the myriad forms it takes. Besides the formal pen or brush-drawn block lettering based on a square of three kulmusim that follows strict laws concerning how it must be written, there are the usual variety of modern seriffed and sans-seriffed fonts, a manual print form and a cursive script used for handwriting.

Learning to recognize the various letter forms and their sound is a challenge and the following Web site has proved very useful: Here you can listen to the sounds of individual letters and how they sound together as words and in sentences such as this blessing upon smelling fragrant fruit:

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam, ha-noten re-ach tov bapperot.

The calligraphy is just that, a beginning – let me know what you think, am I breaking rules?


  1. Looks good to me, but I'm hardly an expert ;-)
    Is there a website

  2. Thanks fraterdeus! I checked and is still available!

    Do you know Izzy Pludwinski's work, listen to a radio interview here:


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