here's the supplier's website if you want to have a look). I was hoping we'd get the Hound of the Baskervilles one in, since it has a satisfyingly floppy and hound-like dog on it, but in its absence I went for Gatsby. True, Daisy's eyes do stare blankly out at the world from the lower part of my bosom, and when I put it on I am probably aligning myself with roughly a million unique hipsters, but it's such a wonderful cover that I truly don't care. It's a picture of the
girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs,- which is the book's in-joke reference to its cover, rather than the other way around: apparently Fitzgerald saw the cover art before the book was finished and liked it so much that he wrote the image into one of his descriptions of New York. Fitzgerald, by the way, was a proto-hipster himself - he coined the phrase 'jazz age' to describe the 20s and seems to have spent most of the decade mad drunk, using long words and talking about the meaning of life. A hipster if ever I heard of one.)
And that, in a very roundabout way, brings me to what I had meant this post to be about in the first place, which is book covers, and how much they affect the way people read. Of course, there are people who claim that covers, like clothes, do not matter - it is what's on the inside that counts. These people are sweet, and well-intentioned, and they are also completely out of their minds.
Until I was about thirteen I bought into this notion, fed me by my mother (who is American - this may or may not be relevant), at which point I realised that although appearance certainly does not reflect inner goodness, there is a lot to be gained in life by not looking as though you have just emerged from a witch's lair and/or the 1970s.
These days I get irrationally annoyed whenever I see any other Generic Out Of Copyright Painted Lady taking her rightful spot on the front of Jane Eyre. Even worse, my Jane has now been given a gig pretending to be Dorothea on the front of Penguin's new edition of Middlemarch. SinceI know that Jane Eyre, if called upon to do so, could take Dorothea Brooke down, this is deeply offensive to my mind.