A collection of reimagined book covers for some of my favourite literary works.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation
The novel is set in New York City in 2000 and 2001 and follows an unnamed protagonist as she makes a plan to sleep for an entire year. The protagonist is tired of the world and feels alienated from it, so she tries to escape from it by staying under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs. The book is, ironically, a love letter to life.
The Catcher in the Rye
The novel details two days in the life of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield after he has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned, Holden searches for truth and wanders through his campus and New York City. Innocence and authenticity are pitted against the phoniness, as Holden puts it, of adulthood. The original cover, one of my favourites of all time, is a masterpiece by E. Michael Mitchell. I wanted to stray from it by trying to evoke the search for meaning and the feeling of nostalgia in a more abstract way.
The Bell Jar
The novel tells the story of Esther, a young, talented writer spending the summer of 1953 in New York City. She’s won a coveted internship at an important fashion magazine. As an aspiring poet, this should be a great opportunity. Yet Esther can’t seem to feel excited. She struggles to define her identity and what she wants to do with her life, feeling stifled by pressure to conform to society’s stereotype of womanhood. Through a series of jarring events, Esther feels increasingly alienated from the world and falls into a deep depression. The Bell Jar addresses the question of socially acceptable identity and highlights the problems with oppressive patriarchal society in mid-20th-century America. My cover is inspired by a significant passage about a fig tree.
Les Fleurs du Mal
Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) attempts to bring out beauty from the malignant. Unlike traditional poetry that relied on the serene beauty of the natural world to convey emotions, Baudelaire felt that modern poetry must evoke the artificial and paradoxical aspects of life. He thought that beauty could evolve on its own, irrespective of nature and even fueled by sin. The result is a clear opposition between two worlds, "spleen" and the "ideal." It was extremely controversial upon publication, with six of its poems censored due to their immorality. The poems frequently break with tradition, using suggestive images and unusual forms and deal with themes relating to decadence and eroticism, particularly focusing on suffering and its relationship to original sin, disgust toward evil and oneself, obsession with death, and aspiration toward an ideal world.
One of Kafka's best-known works, it tells the story of salesman Gregor Samsa, who wakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a huge insect and subsequently struggles to adjust to this new condition. The book deals with the absurdity of life, compassion, family, existential anxiety and social alienation. In 1915, in a letter to his editor, Franz Kafka prohibited his publisher from portraying "the insect" on the original book's cover, as he wanted to keep a level of ambiguity and mystery. I decided to only suggest it with a shape under a bed. It also serves to represent the protagonist Gregor being shameful, a shadow of himself.
In the Dream House
Carmen Maria Machado
For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit. It is an engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming. And it's that struggle that gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope – haunted houses, erotica, bildungsroman – in which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles.