50th anniversary edition of The Bell Jar sparks anger for repackaging it as 'chick lit'
The publishers of an anniversary edition of Sylvia Plath’s only novel, a painful account of depression that mirrored the author’s own before her suicide, stand accused of repackaging it as glorified “chick lit”.
The new cover of The Bell Jar, revealed by Faber 50 years after it was first published, shows a woman fixing her makeup.
A damning critique of the design on the London Review of Books website has triggered a wave of criticism.
“[It] fits into the 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,” Fatema Ahmed wrote in the original post.
The blurb on the back cover notes that the novel’s protagonist, a young writer at a magazine in New York, “grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women’s aspirations seriously.”
Jack Noel, a designer at Walker Books, said the cover “looks like it belongs in the chick-lit section at an airport WH Smith,” adding: “They may as well have called it Bell de Jar,” a reference to Belle de Jour, author of the Diary of a Call Girl books.
The Bell Jar has had more than a dozen covers. The most famous, 1966 edition features a graphic arrangement of concentric circles.
Plath committed suicide a month after the book was first published in the UK in 1963 under the pseudonym, Victoria Lucas.
Hannah Griffiths, paperbacks publisher at Faber, said in a statement: “In our endless endeavour to keep our backlist writers in the minds and hands of new readers, we often look to packaging as a way of describing an old work afresh.
“The image on the cover picks up on the beginning of the story, where the narrator is... encountering the conflict between new freedom and old assumptions about women’s aspirations. “We love it and the sales since publication suggest that new readers are finding it in the way that we hoped.”
Inside The Bell Jar:
“I remember Buddy Willard saying in a sinister, knowing way that after I had children I would feel differently, I wouldn’t want to write poems anymore. So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about numb as a slave in some private, totalitarian state ”
“The sickness rolled through me in great waves. After each wave it would fade away and leave me limp as a wet leaf and shivering all over and then I would feel it rising up in me again, and the glittering white torture chamber tiles under my feet and over my head and all four sides closed in and squeezed me to pieces.”
“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.”
TV Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
- 2 Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 5 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
Jurassic World trailer: Chris Pratt stars in full-length trailer with Bryce Dallas and Ty Simpkins
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
Zoella: YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg's debut novel set to become overnight bestseller
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs
Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services