Patrick Keiller’s 10 favourite books with pictures
From Beatrix Potter to WG Sebald, the artist and film-maker chooses books whose images are intrinsic to the work
Many publishers find it difficult to include visual material in books. Among the exceptions are Tate Publishing, which recently published ‘The Possibility of Life’s Survival on the Planet’, a short book to accompany an exhibition ‘The Robinson Institute’ at Tate Britain, which includes 71 images, nearly all colour, and Reaktion Books, who published ‘Robinson in Space’, with 217 colour images, in 1999. Here are 10 books that combine images and text, in the order in which I encountered them.
1. ‘The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or The Roly-Poly Pudding’ by Beatrix Potter.
2. ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson.
3. ‘Towards an Architecture’ by Le Corbusier.
4. ‘On Growth and Form’ by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson.
5. ‘Nadja’ by André Breton.
6. ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman’ by Laurence Sterne.
7. ‘From Being to Becoming: Time and Complexity in the Physical Sciences’ by Ilya Prigogine.
8. ‘The Rings of Saturn’ by WG Sebald.
9. ‘We Have Never Been Modern’ by Bruno Latour.
10. ‘Your Face Tomorrow’ by Javier Marías.
Berger’s essay continues: “That is to say, instead of being aware of a point as an infinitely small part of a straight line, we are aware of it as an infinitely small part of an infinite number of lines, as the centre of a star of lines” (as a result of his enthusiasm for asterisks, Sterne was known as ‘The Vicar of Stars’). In 2001, the architect Iñaki Ábalos drew my attention to Javier Marías’s ‘All Souls’ and to the latter’s having translated ‘Tristram Shandy’ into Spanish. Last year, once again demob-happy, I read with increasing enthusiasm the three parts of ‘Your Face Tomorrow’, which I must admit do not include that many pictures.
The Guardian, August 29, 2012