Basoli’s alphabet and “The Neverending Story”

Like the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey”, “The Neverending Story” has chapters marked by letters of the alphabet, not numbers. The Italian translation of German writer Michael Ende’s masterpiece, published by Longanesi in 1981, used the illuminated drop caps that Antonio Basoli (1774-1843) had published in his 1839 “Alfabeto pittorico, ossia raccolta di pensieri pittorici composti di oggetti comincianti dalle singole lettere alfabetiche”.

The outstanding book by the Milanese painter and interior designer includes twenty-five sublime lithographs representing imaginary architectures shaped as letters of the alphabet – perfect to illustrate Ende’s epic fantasy work, a “book-within-a-book” with a very intricate plot.

Basoli’s “pictorial alphabet” includes the ampersand (‘&’), often used to connect elements more closely than the spelled-out “and”… just like Ende’s novel connects different worlds – imagination and reality, reader and characters – merging them into one, incredible story.

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