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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

1984, 60th Anniversary Edition

1984 60th Anniversary Edition designed by Jason Johnson

From what I can tell, Plume's 60th Anniversary Edition of Orwell's 1984 recycles a design first used in 1983, which is notable because it's one of the few covers I've ever seen for 1984 that doesn't bring to mind any one of the following words or phrases:

big

scary

ominous

gigantic eyeball


Below is a design from 1978 a reader sent in; it (and Shepard Fairey's recent cover) is the kind of design we're most used to seeing.


Not having read this book in a very long time, what's the better approach? The subtlety of Johnson's design (those are eyes, btw), or aggressive, jackbooted thugs?

15 comments:

Rachel said...

Are those rats forming "1984"? It's hard to tell at this size....

pendens proditor said...

Drab, gray, rigid, constrained, passionless, hopeless. I'd like to see more of that (though I guess it wouldn't sell as well).

miumiu said...

I quite like the rat idea, but to me, they look like eyes (but maybe it's just that I see what I expect to see!)

Joseph said...

They're eyes. I'll note that.

Okie said...

I like the more subtle design personally. Feels more diabolical to me.

dave bish said...

The classic design is cool, but I still like the edition I have: http://www.amazon.co.uk/1984-Nineteen-Eighty-Four-George-Orwell/dp/014027877X/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239815603&sr=8-4

Anonymous said...

Dave, I like that also. Thanks for sharing it!
--Shorty

Alex Charchar said...

I prefer the first one because the second (as far as I can remember) isn't really relevant to the story in that there isn't a loud, verbal uprising or anything like that. the fight he has against big brother is more of an internal one than anything, isn't it? not that covers have to be literal, of course, but the first one has a way better link in my opinion

I actually recently had a look at some of the covers and played around with an idea for another cover for 1984. (Hope you don't mind me linking to my own site, but it's seems relevant :))

Anonymous said...

I prefer the first one- it is a fresh take on a classic. I also like the particular eyes he used... Well done, Jason Johnson.

The Oxen of the Sun said...

I think the subtlety is the way to go--I feel like the aggressiveness of the newer designs reflects what publishers expect common readers will respond to. Kind of sad!

Tropolist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tropolist said...

This cover will always be my favorite, even though it is so far detached from the plot of the novel. The sheer utilitarian seating, the grime on the walls, all just screams 1984 to me.

Alex Charchar said...

Yeah, I really dig that one too. that's the cover of my copy of 1984, but im lucky enough to have a version with much smaller type, leaving more room for the photo to be on display

umlaut said...

It's interesting that a handful of books seem to emerge with, or to attain later, a single iconic cover which stays with them no matter how many efforts there might be to redesign and relaunch them.

For me, A Clockwork Orange, The Catcher in the Rye and Catch-22 all just have a single iconic cover each - even though in some instances I actually own different (lesser) versions. Maybe I'm wrong - I wonder if others would think of the same covers?

All of which occured as it surprises me that 1984 doesn't have such a single memorable association with one look consider the power of the book.

(Curious as well I guess that I truly hate to see an album cover repackaged for a new audience, but am often enthused by the re-working of book covers.)

Great blog - keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I prefer the thug.