February 2013 | Nate Pedersen

Bell Jar Cover Controversy

As you may have heard by now, Faber has published a new edition of The Bell Jar to commemorate the semi-autobiographical novel's 50th anniversary.  The cover has ignited a lot of controversy:

belljarnewcover.jpgCriticism over the new cover centers on the perception that it is marketing The Bell Jar as "chick-lit," and not treating it as serious literature.  The London Review of Books summed up the controversy:

"It should be possible to see 'The Bell Jar' as a deadpan younger cousin of Walker Percy's 'The Moviegoer,' or even William Burroughs's 'Naked Lunch.' But that's not the way Faber are marketing it. The anniversary edition fits into the depressing trend for treating fiction by women as a genre, which no man could be expected to read and which women will only know is meant for them if they can see a woman on the cover."

It's a far cry from the original first edition cover, seen here: (Victoria Lucas, by the way, was Sylvia Plath's pen name).

But it's not such a far cry from some of the other covers issued by Faber over the years, such as this one:

belljarpaperbackcover.jpgThe amusing bit about this controversy is that it has sparked a whole slew of parody covers.  Some of my favorites are below:

(this cover by johnhornor)

belljarparodyceathanleahy.jpg(this cover by Cethan Leahy)

belljarparodysteamedhams.jpg(this cover by steamed hams)

So, what do you think of the new cover for The Bell Jar?  Is it worthy of the controversy it has sparked? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.