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Friday, June 16, 2006

Makeovers for Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

This august Bloomsbury in the UK is coming out with new editions of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre marketted to young readers:
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Emma Matthewson, deputy editorial director at Bloomsbury, also hopes that using specially-commissioned introductions will help to attract teenage readers. In August Bloomsbury will be launching a batch of classic titles - Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein, David Copperfield and, yes, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice - in editions aimed at 14- to 16-year-olds. “When you had to read a classic for school, often the only available edition had a smudgy painting on the cover. It got me thinking that it would be so fantastic to have a version of a classic that looked amazing and pickupable and had lots of extras in it. Our new classics have introductions by authors that teenagers will be familiar with - it’s almost like having an author you really respect, whether it’s Philip Reeve or Meg Cabot, picking up the phone and saying: ‘Hey, you’ve got to read this book!’” The books will have gossipy, newspaper-like end sections to provide further information and historical context.

Wuthering Heights is introduced by Jennifer Donnelly, and Jane Eyre is introduced by Celia Rees. Here also are samples of their catalogue copy:

Orphaned as a young girl, Jane Eyre is brought up by her cruel and uncaring aunt. It is a gloomy start, but when Jane becomes governess to the dark and shadowy Mr Rochester, her life will never quite be the same again. So begins one of the greatest love stories of all time — a tale of grim secrets, passionate love and the power of the human spirit.

After her parents die, Cathy and Heathcliff grow up wild and free on the Yorkshire Moors and despite the continued bad feeling between Cathy’s brother, Hindley, and Heathcliff they're happy - until Cathy meets Edgar Linton, the son of a wealthy neighbour. It is Catherine’s eventual betrayal of Heathcliff which causes him to seek a violent revenge in this moving and intense masterpiece.

Celia Rees is an author of fiction for young adults and children. She has three books: Witch Child, Sorceress, and Pirates- all historical thrillers. Jennifer Donnelly has also written for children, and has three books to her credit: A Gathering Light, The Tea Rose, and Humble Pie.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm fifteen and I wouldn't be caught dead reading a book with a cover like that. Really, I think I'd prefer the "smudgy painting" edition. *laughs*

Brontëana said...

I first read JE when I was 14, and all I had back in those days (...1996?) was the library-discard-dark-green-duct-tape edition :)

Brontëana said...

I wasn't really bothered by them at first, because they look strikingly similar to the covers for Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, which- as far as I know- are not considered 'young adult' reading. The cover of The Eyre Affair looks very similar to this cover for Jane Eyre- It's red, and has light blue and white lettering (and... a dodo bird on a scooter... *ahem*)

But... they seem more directed to younger people, now that I look at them again. More like 10 or so. Most people seem to read JE when they are 10 so that's good.

(btw, you should check out The Eyre Affair. It's a really fun silly read, although there could be more Jane and Mr Rochester in it ;)

mysticgypsy said...

hmm perhaps the cover could target readers younger than 14-15 yr olds? I think the latter group might find them a tad embarassing..

I read an abridged version of Jane Eyre when I was about 11 and all I remember of that reading is young Jane and Bertha. It was when I re-read it when I was about 16 that I really got into the novel. And I have always liked those "sumdgy paintings"

Brontëana said...

My first copy of Wuthering Heights had a 'smudgy painting' (humph. In fact, I paint smudgy paintings and don't see why they need to be blamed for low interest in the classics ;). It didn't really have an effect on whether or not I read the book. It was of a really craggy bit of moorland, and I think there was a house and a tree...

I can't shake the idea that their JE is influenced by the Eyre Affair. I have my copy beside me, and the colours are as close to exactly the same as can be. The title is in the light blue, the author's name in white.

pennyforyourdreams said...

I never cared what the cover looked like when I was deciding what to read and to be honest with you, I wouldn't be attracted to the new covers now, even though I'm not a teenager and they're not aimed at me.

Loud colours do not neccessarily attract. But I do like the idea of "celebrity" endorsement, if Meg Cabot can be said to be a celebrity, they are the kind of things that young teenagers respond to, although if it were Britney Spears (I hope she can read - I know I'm bitter and twisted), I know a lot more girls would be picking up the book. If you don't read, Meg Cabot or Jennifer Connelly aren't going to mean anything to you.

'kay, I'll be quiet now, and if you read "The Well of Lost Plots" also by Jasper Fforde, there's a tiny appearance by Rochester in the court room scene. I like the character of Rochester in those books.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the resemblance to the original Thursday Next covers is rather striking (I love those books - a family friend introduced me to them as soon as I'd finished Jane Eyre for the first time). Then again, my copy of The Eyre Affair looks like this, so I wouldn't be able to say anything about whether or not it's embarrassing to read brightly covered books in public. :)

lessa said...

i think they look cute. hehe. but not really my sort of versions to pick. still, who knows, maybe it works for the kids.

my copies of both books have paintings up front. :) though the wuthering heights is much older 'cause it came from my mom.

Brontëana said...

to pennyforyourdreams:

Agreed. I still don't care all that much. There is only one thing which turns me off from buying a book- the covers in which the author's name is larger than the title of the book itself! You know the ones I mean, I think- the cover art consists of BIG TITLE HERE with EVEN BIGGER AUTHOR'S NAME HERE! and maybe a tiny horse or something that has nothing at all to do with the book tucked into a corner ;)

The celebrity endoursement is a bit interesting and, based on my high school classmates, might get a few more readers.

Oh, I know- I only wish that scene were longer! (I like the autograph bit! Of course they would all want his autograph!) I was a little annoyed that they kept teasing us with him in 'Lost in a Good Book' but we don't see him until 'Well of Lost Plots.' Did you catch the Gondal reference in one of the books? ^_^

Brontëana said...

to anonymous:

I wish Jasper Fforde would continue the series. I think the idea is simply brilliant and so much fun! One of my professors was fond of saying 'we need to be literary detectives!' so I brought in The Eyre Affair. She was amused. :)

I have the British editions which is all that are sold in Canada. They are all very brightly coloured, except for the last one which is brown and orange I think?

I've never felt ashamed of them.

Brontëana said...

le_ssa:

The JE cover is cute, but the Wuthering Heights one reminds me of Harry Potter, and that cannot be a good thing. ;)

pennyforyourdreams said...

Hi Bronteana:

Any book that has the authors name larger than the title generally makes me turn my nose up a bit and make me think of "blockbuster" books, like "Lace". I also don't like those Mills and Boon novels, with a scantily clad female quivering in the arms of a hunky man. Urrgh. Not that I've ever read one, except that they used to publish scientific textbooks and my old chemistry teacher let me borrow one. Off topic: he once set my hair on fire.

I heard that Jasper Fforde is only "resting" Thursday Next and that like James Bond, she will return. I think it's a good idea to have a wee break, that way the idea will seem fresher for longer.

And I didn't get the Gondal reference in the books! Doh! I shall have to re-read; I have met Jasper Fforde at a book signing and he does seem a nice guy.

And I (honestly) live in Reading.

Brontëana said...

Oh, pennyforyourdreams, you don't know what fun it is to read the cover copy of those books! A few weeks ago, a well-meaning person donated an entire bookshelf full of 'classics' to my collection. There was a book on turtle care, and a centenial view of Canada- those were interesting. The rest were genuine 1970s Harlequin romances. And the bad writing was so exquisitely funny. I couldn't have read on if I wanted to- I was laughing too hard.

Another amusing pastime of mine is to read articles online from AskMen, a site giving really bad advice to men particularly about relationships (I have warned all of my friends of the masculine persuation to not listen to anything on that site!). One of their pieces of advice was to sneak into the girlfriend's bedroom and steal her romance novels ('she will have them- they all do!') and perform a little test on it, to discover their girl's particular fantasy. I do NOT have romance novels, so the closest thing is, in fact, Jane Eyre. When I performed the test on my copy, and following their advice, should any of my male friends suddenly hurl himself down the stairs shouting 'what the deuce is to do now?!' I know that he has tender feeling for me. :D

That sounds good to me too. I tried finding something definative on http://thursdaynext.com but I had no luck.

I can't remember which book it is in, but I have a feeling that it was in 'Lost in a Good Book.' If you would like a hint, read on...
...

...

...

...

...

It's via the footnoterphone. :)

pennyforyourdreams said...

Oh, the footnoterphone I remember now! Gah, me and my memory. I once read the same Agatha Christie novel three times and I didn't remember the killer for two of those readings! I still can't remember the title of the book, I just have a vague feeling that stockings were the key to the mystery, oh well.

I don't have any "romance novels" either, so any male admirers would be stuck with "Cathy!" (which isn't my name) or reading out tracts from my large collection of textbooks. Mm, romantic.

Askmen.com is funny:)

Brontëana said...

to pennyforyourdreams:

Or he might smash his head against a tree, or strangle your dog. o_O No, no, not a very good plan at all!

pennyforyourdreams said...

Or dig up his ex-girlfriend.