New 50th Anniversary Edition of ‘The Bell Jar’ Sparks Anger Over ‘Chick-Lit’ Cover
In the 50 years since Sylvia Plath’s first and only book was published, The Bell Jar has had more than a dozen covers in the US, but mostly dark and vague, reflecting the descent of the main character into mental illness. So, for the big anniversary, Faber and Faber decided to go in a totally different direction for their special edition: mainly a woman adjusting her makeup.
The change has angered the literary world and prompted angry critiques of the artwork, starting with a damning piece on the London Review of Books blog by Fatema Ahmed:
[It] fits into the depressing trend for treating fiction by women as a genre, which no man could be expected to read and which women will only know is meant for them if they can see a woman on the cover.
And it’s been all over the social media sphere prompting comments that sum up the antipathy that’s bubbling out there for Faber’s choice of cover.
As Dustin Kurtz, a marketing manager at Melville House, tweeted, ‘How is this cover anything but a “fuck you” to women everywhere?’ Andy Pressman, a graphic designer, called it ‘Awesomelycomicallyhistorically inapprop’, adding: ‘And by “historically” I mean “incorrect on a scale of which we have few historical precedents”, not “That typeface didn’t exist in that era”.’
Plath committed suicide a month after the book was first published (not over the cover, I might add) — she didn’t even want it published under her own name as Plath didn’t want her mother to read it, but I doubt she would have liked what Faber have done with her work. I can definitely say this doesn’t represent the book for me; I simply can’t believe what they’ve done with it. What do you think?
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