A soon-to-be-released collection of newly designed book covers restores the reputation of teenage heroine Lolita.
Run a Google image search on “Lolita”. Up comes pages and pages of teasing, pouting teens. “The term ‘Lolita’ has come to popularly mean something quite the opposite of the novel’s namesake,” says blogger John Bertram.
“We are talking about a novel which has child rape at its core.”
In 2009 he ran a competition asking designers to re-work the cover. The series is now being turned into a book. Bertram sees the collection as a correction of past interpretations.
“As a whole, I don’t see that there is much to be valued in most of the covers that have graced the novel (there are, of course, notable exceptions). But it was also an experiment in which I posed the question: ‘Can it be done better?’ says competition organiser and blogger John Bertram.
“For the gallery of covers in my book, I was interested to see what well-known designers might come up with when freed from editors, publishers and art directors and the constraints implicit in the marketing and selling of books. The result, I think, is a sort of meditation on what it means to create a cover for a complicated book, but it’s also about how a cover can add to or change the book’s meaning. In other words, there is a sense in which it’s a two-way street, which gives the designer tremendous power but also demands responsibility.”
See a selection of the re-worked covers below.