Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Classic cover mistakes (2)

In my May post of this year I wrote about 2 book covers that were definitely marketing mistakes. I wanted to add two more.

The first is The Turn of the Screw, a strange, sinister tale about a governess and her orphaned charges, Miles and Flora. It is a dark tale with ghosts that hints at madness and sexual molestation. The novel inspired the opera by Benjamin Britten, television plays and films. But if you saw this edition in a book shop, and didn't know who Henry James was, you might think this was a motorcycle repair manual.

I find this Spanish language edition of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment a classically bad cover. Yes, it depicts the pivotal event of the novel, the murder of the elderly pawn-broker, Alyona Ivanovna, with an axe. But more than the strange perspective is disturbing.

Rodion Raskolnikov looks quite dapper in his clean felt hat; he does not seem like a starving ex-student who avoids his landlady because he can't come up with the rent for his St Petersburg rat-hole. In fact, he looks like someone in a Bellini painting or a member of an 80s rock band.

So the next time you see a bad cover, please don't blame the poor writer who  has little, or no say, in the packaging of their words. Book covers shouldn't be a crime and should never be a punishment for those who have put in the blood, sweat and tears to write them.

Stay tuned . . .

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