The Bell Jar gets an unwanted anniversary makeover
In celebration of Sylvia Plath’s first and only novel’s 50th birthday, publishing house Faber is releasing The Bell Jar with a new cover. The splashy, colorful cover features a conventionally attractive woman applying powder to her face in looking into her compact. It could easily make a new reader pick it up looking for some light reading -- though, it could just as easily make readers think the artist has never read the book.
Fans and critics are up in arms over the misleading cover, claiming it’s a cheap trick and an attempt to repackage the work as "chick lit." Faber defends itself by saying the cover represents “the beginning of the story, where the narrator is... encountering the conflict between new freedom and old assumptions about women’s aspirations." Not so coincidentally she also mentions sales are up for the anniversary edition.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Bell Jar or just glanced over the Sparknotes in high school, the plot follows the story of a woman battling with depression in a world that doesn’t understand her. The novel closely mirrors Plath’s own life, which she tragically ended just a month after the book’s initial publication. It’s a beautiful tale of pain, made chilling by Plath’s suicide.
That covers looking a little messed up now, right?
The issue isn’t with change; the novel has had fifteen different covers since 1963. However, those covers all suggested in some way the darkness and pain held within the pages, or at least introspection. This new cover alludes to nothing more then a cheery, shallow, cheap beachside read about a '50s housewife.