Thursday, 27 May 2010
Patricia Highsmith - covers update
This is Vintage's new edition of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley (as seen on the Caustic Cover Critic blog). It is part of their Vintage Loves Film series (novels that have been successfully adapted for the cinema) which is coming out in August as a summer promotion. My earlier post on Highsmith cover art discussed some of the highs and lows of designs over the years, and how they reflected the way Highsmith's standing in the literary world veers from serious literature to pulp fiction. Vintage's current crop of Highsmiths are simply not as nice as Bloomsbury's 2008 editions, and I learned that Bloomsbury are actually re-issuing Ripley Under Water to tie in more with the Vintage mould.
So they go from this in 2008:
to this in 2010:
I don't like the new rendering of the 'Ripley Under Water' text, and especially the orange background - it reminds me of Sainsbury's promotional adverts - and I think it looks chaotic combined with the original freehand style they used for the author's name. There's also something less brave about the way the three visual elements of author, image, and title are now equally weighted. The perspective in the 2008 design had the effect of dragging you down with it, subconsciously communicating something of the book.
I'm not necessarily a purist; in art I often admire the notion of 'becoming the storm', but in book design, I think there is a greater demand on clarity, understanding, and respect for the novel inside. Of course, purity in design is notoriously difficult to achieve, but I think this new summer edition of The Talented Mr. Ripley succeeds in this sense, and is an elegant addition to the range of Highsmiths available.