Classic Words, Fresh Looks

John Williams has written a review of Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover for the New York TImes. Here is an excerpt: 

The orange-and-white paperbacks that Penguin introduced in the 1930s have probably inspired a loyal following for their graphic design enjoyed by no other publisher. There’s even an annual gathering for fans — the Penguin Collectors Society’s 43rd is slated for September in Sheffield, Britain. Several glossy books have recounted the publisher’s visual history; the latest is “Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover.”

Edited by Paul Buckley, the creative director for Penguin Classics, the book showcases more recent work done to draw new readers to Dostoyevsky, Joyce, Borges, Steinbeck and dozens of others. As the author and visual artist Audrey Niffenegger puts it in a foreword, artists can avoid “less obvious ideas” when refashioning a classic because “the book’s reputation is a design element.” Niffenegger took advantage of that liberty in her own work on the novels of Jane Austen. Erica Jong writes about a recent approach to her novel “Fear of Flying” that she calls “sexy without being vulgar.” Jong notes that the book’s covers have become more discreet since it was first published in 1973, “although there are occasional mass-market reprints in which we see navels and bananas.”

To read the full review click here