In response to the increasing demand and war-time restrictions, covers made from resilient if unattractive materials such as biscuit cloth and buckram were produced. For example, Roger Ingram put out an edition of Pride and Prejudice specially bound to withstand frequent use.
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Owing to the scarcity of copies of Pride and Prejudice available for general reading, a scarcity which exists over the whole field of classical literature, it has been felt that some amelioration of the position would be created by the issue of a special library edition. This edition, while conforming to the War Economy Agreement in the matter of typography and paper, is bound in a way that will make the book stand up to library conditions of use without the rapid deterioration common to most books issued in recent years.
Gilson The utilitarian Austen cover—the original bindings and those conforming to war-time economy standards—seems to take on a symbiotic relationship with its text. Original bindings are like swaddling clothes, untainted by the vulgarity of fashion; the war-time covers are like thick skins, holding together a world for a reader whose life is on the line.
Each speaks to a heightened experience for the life of a text preserved through its cover—times when the book as a whole carries more meaning than it would bear at other points. The utilitarian Austen cover is freighted with greater significance than others because it reminds us both of the vulnerability of a text and of how much more a text is than simply words on a page. Hawking Austen: cosmetic exposure. The cosmetics of book covers became significant on a large scale around once boards as encasements were replaced with cloth bindings. Mass production of Austen novels started with the enterprising publisher Richard Bentley.
He bought five of the six copyrights from Cassandra Austen in , and, beginning with Sense and Sensibility , he issued each in his Standard Novels series. Poor lighting forced shopkeepers to grope among dark bookshelves. The texture of the Bentley cover was recognizable; chances were that a missing Bentley title would be noticed quickly and selected for re-order over others Louis Braille published his Method of Writing Words, Music and Plain Song by Means of Dots in , and the Braille method may have inspired Bentley to fashion not only a cover look but also a cover feel for promotional purposes.
Marketed mainly for railway reading, yellowbacks were sold in railway bookstalls. Sadleir scrupulously details the history of the yellowback with illustrations and description. The front cover usually bore an illustration pertaining to the text while the spine also carried a design or a picture. Yellowbacks were bound in straw boards covered with glazed colored paper—always bright, but not always yellow. The paper was block printed with pictures using a technique perfected by Edmund Evans King 4, 69, Green glazed boards printed in brown, and dark green fine-ribbed cloth with gold decoration on the spine, could be counted on to catch to eye of Parlour Library addicts and tempt them to purchase.
In the typical conveniently-sized cover for commuter reading, Sense and Sensibility was No. From this period, the Routledge firm began fully exploiting the cover space. An increasing number of publishers were in competition; each tried to outdo the other with new designs and combinations and make a profit through advertising on the cover King xvii.
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An amusing example of a later edition of Pride and Prejudice advertised patent medicines on its lower boards while its upper boards depicted the stomach-churning marriage proposal from Collins to Elizabeth—an unintended juxtaposition. The covers of other Routledge Editions feature scenes with potential melodrama. Another possibility is that the identical covers of the novels within a series made the Austen novel just another book within an already well-liked and easily identifiable sequence.
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Her growing popularity could be the result of as well as an index to her inclusion within the realm of series publishing. The Everyman and Penguin trademarks of the twentieth century became familiar to the general public in similar ways. Both marketed Austen. Jane Austen, in fact, is the first British author followed by Dickens to have her complete works included in the Everyman collection.
Her prominence in the Everyman collection speaks to her significant commercial appeal by the turn of the century. Ernest Rhys describes the ideal end-product of the Everyman edition in terms of its cover. Yellowback publisher Routledge could have promoted his series with a similar spin:. What we were after, one and all, was to produce a book which would be pleasant to see and to handle, with a cheerful outside, and print easy to read and good for the eyes within—tempting to look at on the shelf, and of a size convenient for the pocket, one that could be taken for a country ramble or for a railway journey or on shipboard.
Like the yellowback, the easily recognizable Penguin cover was spotted from a distance and distributed—though not in railway bookstalls but rather in machines called Penguincubaters. Holding their tongues: seen but not read. Other editions, however, targeted consumers who purchased Austen quite deliberately, even if only to impress others. For example, in J. In Chatto and Windus produced a limited edition for which the front board of each cover featured a small, oval, color illustration reproducing a watercolor drawing by Wallis Mills. First impressions: covers and art.
In , the Penguin Press revived the illustrated cover for Austen novels. To distinguish its classics series from its fiction series, Penguin hired artists and credited them on the front cover to illustrate a selected scene for the cover of the novel. These covers were the first to use an illustration of a scene from the novel since the infamous yellowbacks. The chosen scene—Jane Bennet departing for Netherfield, riding side-saddle, with Mrs. Bennet waving her off—suggests a type of female odyssey. The spate of renowned cover designers and illustrators for Austen novels in the s indicates not only a golden age for cover design but also the regard publishers had for Austen novels—an indicator that at least certain segments of the public held Austen in esteem.
Tedesco Gilson He directed illustrator Edgard Cirlin, who placed two male characters—neither one the hero—in the foreground. In the background, two elongated female figures face away. These choices suggest a complex view of gender relationships somewhat unusual for , particularly after the simplistic interpretation of Pride and Prejudice in the Greer Garson film. The covers of other Austen editions of this era were designed by Joseph Blumenthal and P. For example, his dreamlike illustration for Mansfield Park features a firm, strong man, legs apart, pulling a translucent-looking young woman by the wrist into his chest.
The swirling yellow background includes another wispy young woman looking on. Echoes from the past: cover reproductions. Starting in the mid s, covers of Austen novels began to shift away from using original art. Instead, the trend was to contextualize the work with reproductions of paintings and portraits, sometimes an inaccurate contextualization from a geographical, chronological, or social viewpoint. Unlike illustrations using original art, these images suggested—often falsely—a literal representation from the novel, usually an image of the heroine.
The portraits of wealthy, often aristocratic women, for example, misled readers who might have imagined the heroines in their likeness. Austen has few women in her novels who enjoy the economic status of the women who grace these covers—the clothing, jewelry, hairstyle, complexion could be all wrong.
The first portrait gracing a cover appeared in The wide use of reproductions on Austen covers continues today. Spirit of the Times: Iconic Covers. The designers and illustrators go unnamed, but the artists behind these covers typically emphasized the female image in the abstract.
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For example, the purple-bordered, pink cover of the Signet is interrupted with a corner slice of turquoise. The main female figure with a modern hairstyle, hair caught back in what appears to be a barrette , blank face in profile, turns to the turquoise space filled by six persons in decidedly period dress. This cover suggests a vision of a young woman looking back in time. Her distressed, huge eyes look to one side, like a rendition of a Warhol-like silkscreen print.
Although little effort toward modernization appeared in the s or s, in August Vintage Press released editions in covers that again capture a contemporary feel. Each of the six Vintage Austen novels features a woman or women designed to fill the page with open, full, figures. The Vintage editions offer readers clean lines in place of fussy detail.
A few combinations of muted, contemporary tones comprise the color scheme, the simplicity contrasting with the busyness of reproductions. Period costumes are replaced with design. The configuration leaves no doubt as to the centrality of women to each novel.
The lack of detail directs the beholder away from the cosmetic and toward a sense of interiority. Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. If Marianne and Mrs. Jennings fail as sleuths in Sense and Sensibility , it is largely because of the interference of preconceived ideas or imagination. She perceives symptoms that are not there. What else can detain him at Norland? Similarly, Mrs.
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Jennings, who is just as blinded by her preconceived ideas, proves to be a poor lay doctor, offering wine to treat depressed spirits, because her husband told her it treated gout, which was an even more harmful mistake. Jennings shows that the lay public used to try, almost at random, their limited treatment options, and that useless treatments were handed down from one generation to the next.
The medical enlightenment of the public had not yet been realized. The thrill of making the right diagnosis, observing and interpreting symptoms correctly foreshadowed the thrill of the detective solving a riddle, looking for the truth. The amateurish dabbling with medicine does seem to be condemned in Sense and Sensibility , as Takei points out, mainly because toying around becomes dangerous when a life is at stake. Elinor sometimes errs as a detective, the most striking instance concerning the existence of an engagement between Marianne and Willoughby, but her mistaken diagnoses are much more damaging.
The reason might lie in her interest in psychological truths rather than in the body per se.