By JO CASE
There’s an uproar on the internet right now about the recent makeover of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.
While the original cover was a concentric ring of mesmerising circles, the fiftieth anniversary edition shows a glamorous woman applying make-up in a compact mirror.
‘For a book all about a woman’s clinical depression that’s exacerbated by the suffocating gender stereotypes to which she’s expected to adhere and the limited life choices she has as a woman, it’s pretty f**king stupid to feature a low-rent retro wannabe pinup applying makeup,’ writes Jezebel.
The London Review of Books placed the book’s new treatment in the context of a larger, ‘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’.
The Huffington Post compared the new Bell Jar to the post-Twilight covers of Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice, aimed at teenage girls and heavily referencing the Twilight covers. Wuthering Heights now bears the coverline ‘Bella and Edward’s favourite book’.
‘It’s insulting to women and girls everywhere to essentially trivialise the topics of these books by creating these book covers showcasing female stereotypes,’ wrote Zoe Triska, the Huffington Post’s associate books editor.
It’s not just books by women that are redressed in inappropriately girlie clothing, though.
Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s – about a gigolo’s complex friendship with a high-class escort shopping for a moneyed marriage – has a new cover that features a little black dress on a mannequin, set against a pink and turquoise background of New York skyrises.