Tuesday, 5 May 2009

90° Difference

I just stumbled across an interesting, if 2-year-old, interview with John Gall, art director at Vintage US (among other roles). In it, he discusses the 50th anniversary edition of Lolita which was published by Vintage US.



He reveals the original design, which both he and the publisher were eventually too nervous to run with. You can probably see why.



This reminds me of a Lolita cover with a different problem. The current Penguin Classics UK edition is fine on the front, but as Lucy Fishwife pointed out to me, on the spine the author is written 'Vladimir Nabkov'.



You'll have to believe me on that one: I didn't have a camera to hand when I came across it in the real world. It's a mite embarrassing, though.

12 comments:

JonathanM said...

There was also an Everyman hardback edition that was so excited by its introduction by Martin Amis that it took out the (fictional) introduction by John Ray jnr PHd - ie the first chapter.

Ian Shimkoviak said...

Oooh that hurts. I assume the sideways lips were meant to suggest a vagina. Yeah, that would be just wrong. I remember that article with Gall from a while back too.

JRSM said...

You can see why they got cold feet.
JonathanM: I used to have an omnibus of Nabokovs that did the same thing--they'd removed all of the introductions to save space, and killed John Ray Jnr in the process.

Levi Stahl said...

Wow. That second Lolita cover almost made me spit coffee all over my computer. I keep trying to imagine being in the meeting when the designer springs that one . . . gasps, awkward silence, awed laughter. I can see why they couldn't bring themselves to go with it.

Ian Shimkoviak said...

love this Lolita cover: http://www.inescuesta.com/graphic_lolita.html

JLW said...

nice post – did you ever see Christopher Wilson’s article, ‘The look of Lolita’ in Eye 43 (still in print)?

you can read an extract here

JLW

JRSM said...

Ian: That's a great cover (though I was alarmed at first when I misread the web address as www.incestua.com, which would have been sort of appropriate, if horrible). Do you know which publisher that is?

JLW: Thanks for that link--it looks like a very interesting article. And almost EVERY publisher has gone against Nabokov's wishes, haven't they?

miss cat's dastardly depictions said...

I have a copy of the first one- Is it terrible that I don't think the alternative cover is wrong. Perhaps a release of it in another country.

JRSM said...

It is very clever--I just don't think you could get away with it in America. In the late 1990s my dad wrote a book about X-rays for children. The original Australian edition had a sketch of a boy having his chest X-rayed. For the US edition, his exposed nipples were deemed unacceptable, and a singlet had to be drawn over the top. Very odd.

paperbacks preferred said...

my friend commented about this ed. on an entry of mine, after which we both found yours simultaneously. such a coincidence deserves a comment!

I wonder how many other cover designs were scrapped like this.

splashofcover.blogspot.com if you'd like to see the entry in question :)

JRSM said...

Thank you for that link. Synchronicity! A good blog for book covers that never made it is http://shelvedbooks.blogspot.com/

paperbacks preferred said...

Clearly, cover designing is a long process behind the scenes. Thanks for the link, it really puts things in perspective.