Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Faber and Faber Book Covers

I am still in the process of preparing for my viva, this coming Monday. Things are progressing as well as I would like but it's still a worrying prospect to have such an examination ahead of you! My best friend is studying for a MPhil in Irish Writing in English, so we both hit the library together a fair bit. It's always great to have a study buddy, someone to grab a cup of tea with and laugh for fifteen minutes or so before getting back into the work!

In getting my presentation together, I have tried to make the slides as Plath-like as possible. So I looked for inspiration from the various book covers of her work, to see if any artwork could be mirrored in emblem form for the top left-hand corner of my slides (This is a trend for me - if you didn't notice, the header for my blog features the vase of flowers from the 1984 edition of 'Ariel').

While looking for Plath artwork, I stumbled across the Faber and Faber flickr account and was delighted to find lots of books covers, not only of Plath but from all Faber writers! In my opinion F&F is probably the best publishing house in the world, and it was a real pleasure to see covers of Phillip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, Louis MacNeice books. Check the page out for yourself! Maybe one of your favourite authors are included.

These book covers really are special. A lot of time and consideration has gone into putting them together. Take for example:

This book cover has been illustrated by Sarah Young. I think it is so representative of what readers will find in 'Ariel'. The moon image, the bee, the face split in half; as well as the birds, trees and sea-like motions really show so many of the themes and thoughts explored by Sylvia Plath in this book. I think this cover is terrific!

The previous image is the inlay of the book. Again, the same creatures feature and there are different types of moons and insects littered throughout the drawings. It would be such a pleasure to sit down and read some Sylvia Plath with a cover and artwork like this!

The Faber and Faber flickr really is worth a visit - there are so many unique interpretations of text through art adding a whole new level to the understanding of literature. To me, poetry is all about the images conjured in your head while reading the words. The poet directs you to think of the topic they are discussing but it is the imagination of the reader that brings the work to life. With these colourful and interesting book covers/inlays, there is so much more food for the imagination!


Melanie Smith said...

There is so much that can be said about the variation on covers and so many that work, and so many that don't.

All the best for Monday

Karen Roderick said...

Strangely, I bought a copy of 'Ariel' last week with this cover, and I've spend ages just staring at it - inspecting it. I buy alot of books (sometimes for their cover!), but this is the most beautiful so far.

Anonymous said...

I got the Sarah Young cover as a gift from my former university.

I collect any different covers I can find of Northern Irish writing - maybe you should do the same with Plath?

Good luck for the viva - it seems but a very distant nightmare for me!

The Plath Diaries said...

@Melanie - You are quite right. In fact, something that is a problem for Plath often I believe, is that her poetry books often feature images of her on the cover! I think that this can be argued to perpetuate the whole 'cult of Sylvia Plath' a good deal. How many other authors do you know that grace the cover of their actual work? It can take away from the poetry, or add a slant like, in Plath's case "beautiful, crazy Sylvia" which really takes away from the work.

@Karen - I would be a liar if I said I have never bought a book, or indeed a music album based on the cover. In fact I bought the Time Traveller's Wife based on the cover and ended up loving that particular book!

@Alex - If I had the £££ I would definitely try and hunt down as many Plath covers as I could, my dear!;) I think the Holy Grail for Plath fans would be a copy of 'The Bell Jar' by Victoria Lucas (the pen name Plath used). That would be worth buying - and framing!