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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Marketting The Professor

I came across this cover for The Professor by Charlotte Brontë and had to pause over it. To me it seems like an odd choice for the book, and yet I can well understand what motives might have gone into the choice. I am not sure, firstly, who this is supposed to depict. Is this supposed to be William Crimsworth? Is this Mr. Hunsden? Why is Mr. Hunsden on the cover of 'The Professor'? It doesn't seem to be of any particular character, I think. But it does seem to say: "tall, dark, mysterious man + Charlotte Brontë novel." And this will draw attention to an otherwise quite passionless book.

I have the penguin edition of The Professor. The cover depicts a rather studious looking man with round glasses, and an uncertain expression. It is a portrait of the artist's brother. He looks like he might be a school-teacher, or a clerk. In other words, he might be William Crimsworth, the professor. When I look at this cover, I think this is the story of an ordinary man which is what Charlotte had tried to do with The Professor.

This Wildside Press paperback cover reminds me of current advertisements for the 1934 Jane Eyre, which is heralded everywhere as a gothic horror classic. Anyone who has seen this film will find it difficult not to laugh at such a statement. It is like a comedy of manners, with a confused quaker living in one of the rooms ("Oh Edward! My husband! You've decided to get married again? [to Jane] Are you one of the guests?"). Here are some of the other covers for the sake of comparison:


mysticgypsy said...

hmm to me it seems like this picture is trying to hint at anti-Catholic or maybe anti-foreign sentiments..

Brontëana said...


mysticgypsy said...

The man seems to be praying, and the added effect of his dress, which resembles that of a pastor, along with the dark background is has a very Medieval-feel to it.

The figure seems like an outsider(non-English) to me.

My interpretation of this picture is informed by the xenophobia and anti-Catholic sentiments present in her novels.

Brontëana said...

he does have a bit of a faux-air of St.Francis, I think. Except for the lack of a tonsure.

The other covers in this series are likewise dark in tone, although the women don't seem to look particularly non-English... Although they are dark and dramatic.