There is a furore in the air because the Faber 50th anniversary edition of Sylvia Plath's classic novel The Bell Jar, about a young woman in the 1950s America of Eisenhower who suffers mental health issues (to put it mildly), features a cover designed for the Mad Men set: stylish, retro and also, quite light. The sense is, the design betrays the content, and cheapens lit by making it chick lit instead. Ill-lit, it should be, not bright and sassy. The Faber people claim the design is designed to reach young readers who might not know who Plath is, or have read her poetry - which seems a little unlikely as a sales aim - a bit like marketing Orwell to people who don't know much about Nineteen Eighty-Four with a cover of some slim sexy women in latex catsuits.
However, some argue, what does it matter if the book finds new readers? I guess the book and its cover issue raises a question - is there ever a cover not apt for an author? Would we ever see a Heaney book with a mink-clad moll on the cover, sipping a lipstick tinged martini glass? How about a Hughes book, with notches on a bed post, and a smoking cigarette in an ashtray, with some bullets spilled out across the bed beside a Luger? It seems unlikely the males of the stable would get the extreme makeover but then again, we are all waiting for the Lolita cover that really does it justice... aren't we?
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The views expressed by editor Todd Swift are not necessarily shared by contributing poets and reviewers. Any material on this blog infringing copyright will be removed immediately upon request.To order books from Eyewear PUBLISHING LIMITED, go to: www.eyewearpublishing.com