‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath

11 May, 2013 by Victoria Love

Faber and Faber, 2013.

'The Bell Jar' - Sylvia Plath. Faber and Faber, 2013

‘The Bell Jar’ – Sylvia Plath.
Faber and Faber, 2013 ( www.faber.co.uk)

Much has been written about this ill-advised cover from Faber and Faber. In an effort to modernise a seminal piece of feminist literature and market it to a younger audience, they have made large errors in judgement. The story of ‘The Bell Jar’ revolves around a central female character who struggles with depression and “suffocating” gender stereotypes; it is considered to be semi-autobiographical, mirroring Plath’s own bouts of depression.

The Faber and Faber cover draws upon a clichéd view of glamour, featuring “a low-rent retro wannabe pinup applying makeup” (Egan Morrissey, 2013), which is completely at odds with the plot of the novel. The hand lettered, brush script used for the title is seen on many ‘chick-lit’ novels and is an obvious attempt to appeal to the same audience. Not being familiar with Plath’s work, this will lead the average ‘chick-lit’ reader to expect another light, romance-led plotline, when in fact the story is far darker. The ‘50th Anniversary’ highlight doesn’t actually add gravitas to the cover; it is my feeling that it inadvertently implies ‘1950s’. When coupled with the cover imagery, it engenders the soft, ‘rose-tinted’ view of the era, rather than the struggles the character faces. It clashes with the content and is misleading; a good example of when nostalgia is misapplied.

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