Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Classic cover mistakes (1)

Cover art work broadcasts what a book is about. I've already written a post about the four book covers of my first novel, No Angel Hotel, and how different a feel they gave each edition.

For some spring silliness, I wanted to share 2 covers of classic books, both of which sit on my shelf, but thankfully in different editions.

Considering its first line, ('It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.'), it's surprising that the august publishing house of Faber & Faber let this doozy slip through for the 50th anniversary of the first publication of The Bell Jar.

When the novel was first published, Sylvia Plath used a pseudonym rather than her own name, calling the book a 'potboiler'. This cover makes it look like a bodice ripper. The female on the cover is hardly the face of an Ivy League co-ed, certainly not one in 50s New York.

Valdimir Nabokov would have been amused, I think, at this Japanese edition of Lolita. It gives a whole new interpretation to its first line: 'Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.' Seeing the cover he might alter it to read, 'Lolita, neon light of my life.'

Nabokov finished Lolita in December 1953, five years after he started it. In the same year, he was interviewed for Life Magazine and was asked which of his writings had most pleased him. This is what he said:

'I would say that of all my books Lolita has left me with the most pleasurable afterglow—perhaps because it is the purest of all, the most abstract and carefully contrived. I am probably responsible for the odd fact that people don't seem to name their daughter Lolita any more. I have heard of young female poodles being given that name since 1956, but of no human beings.'

Stay tuned . . .