In a recent NYRB review by P.N. Furbank of the Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne occurs the following sentence: “Her edition forms a physically very pretty book, with a charming and inventive use of civilité type.” Of course I immediately wanted to know what the typeface looked like and, if possible, why it was so named. The latter is explained here:
Civilité, designed by the prolific typographer Herman Zapf, is based on the typeface Granjon, of 1928, which in turn was a revival of the types of Robert Granjon, who flourished in Paris, Rome and Antwerp in the late-sixteenth century. Robert Granjon is renowned for his caractères de civilité, letterforms based on a graceful French handwriting and intended as a French version of the Italian italic hand.
You can see a nice sample here (I trust everyone recognizes the Latin text). And if you’re really interested, there’s a book: Civilité types, by Harry Carter and H. D. L. Vervliet (The Oxford Bibliographical Society, Oxford Univ. Press, 1966).