Sunday, March 7, 2010

Penguin's Got You Covered

It may come as no surprise, if you're an avid reader and book lover, that Penguin Classics is responsible for some of the most beautiful book covers on the market over the last few years.  I am absolutely in love with many of the Deluxe Edition covers, particularly those designed by Cuban artist Ruben Toledo, which include Pride and Prejudice, The Scarlet Letter, and Wuthering Heights.

Aren't they stunning?  I love the surreal feeling of these covers.  So much so, in fact, that I recently purchased this edition of Wuthering Heights and let me tell you, the cover is more breathtaking than this image can express.  I've been taken with it since the first time I saw it and I'll likely buy a used copy of the book, with a different cover, when it comes time to read it because I'm not certain I can bring myself to mar this one--I'm not particularly gentle with books, you see.

Recently, it would appear that Penguin's at it again, producing yet another round of stylish covers.  Teaming up with (RED), the yet to be released (RED) Series covers are as stunning as they are human issues conscious.  The idea, of course, is to produce beautiful covers that bring the classics to modern audiences while benefiting (RED)'s partners, such as The Global Fund, in the fight against AIDS.  The covers aren't available yet, but according to RobAroundBooks' Cover Love column, the first eight books will be available May 20th.  Sadly, I have a sneaking suspicion that that is a European release date, and so can't promise that they'll be available in bookstores in the US on that date.

Of the covers, all of which are typographically interesting, my absolute favorite's have to be Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, and not just because I love that book --and I do, by the way, love that book-- and Emile Zola's Thérèse Raquin.  Both covers are eye-catching, while being relevant to the work they represent.

With The House of Mirth and Thérèse Raquin, the other six titles available in the first release will be Anna Karenina, Dracula, Great Expectations, Notes from Underground, The Secret Agent,  and The Turn of the Screw.  Though the covers have fallen under scrutiny by Forbes as pretentious, I feel that they may have missed the irony in some of the cover designs -- they point, for example, to The House of Mirth cover's girlish fonts as a negative, when in fact it is Lily Bart's value as a woman of beauty, and her unwillingness to settle because of it, that leads to the novel's tragedy.

Ultimately, these covers will likely have the effect of bringing younger audiences to these classical novels, while supporting a very real threat in the world in a fresh new way.  You simply can't miss with that combination and I applaud Penguin's efforts in this endeavor.  I can't wait to get my paws on this edition!

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