Recovering the Classics is a part of a new initiative announced by the White House partnering with the New York Public Library and the Digital Public Library of America to re-imagine and create new covers of books we all know and love. This collaboration will distribute these newly covered books to schools and libraries across the country. Recovering the Classics is dedicated to ensuring that classic novels have newly imagined covers, due to the fact that the public domain has often generated “poorly designed or auto-generated covers.” These visually unappealing covers ultimately take away from the true essence and unique qualities of classic novels, especially with the dynamic visual age that our society is currently enveloped in.
Through the Creative Action Network, Recovering the Classics is able to recruit a community of artists and designers that contribute their designs for covers of the 100 greatest works in the public eye. The great part is that anyone can contribute, and all designs are available for sale as prints, apparel, and other products to support the artists.
Here are 15 of the greatest re-imagined book covers from Recovering the Classics:
1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
This world-renowned coming of age story by Charlotte Brontë, is a must-read classic. This re-imagined book cover by Ed Gaither is themed from one of the most iconic quotes from the book: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a human being with an independent will.” Having this on the cover is particularly intriguing because of the feminist movement that is culturally relevant in society. That being said, a lot of people–women especially–are very inclined to pick up this book if such an empowering quote is on the cover.
2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace is referred to as one of the central works of world literature. This re-imagined cover by T.M. Serlin is the embodiment of peace, which is somewhat ironic considering that WAR is also in the title. In creating more of a one-sided cover, it makes a potential reader more intrigued to figure out what the balance actually is between war and peace; if there is even a balance at all. (Even if this book is a couple thousand pages long)
3. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
This “pointing the finger” concept of The Scarlet Letter’s re-imagined cover by MrFurious, is the perfect embodiment of the novel. Whilst this symbol of adultery clings to the chest of the main character, this red “A” manifests its own persona. The abundance of judgmental pointing fingers all represent the discrimination, insecurity, and injustice of the novel. Thus making these two aspects essential to include on the cover.
4. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This story of love, greed and status is perfectly portrayed in the re-imagined cover by Sawsan. This cover is representative of how certain aspects of your life completely turn your world upside town, which essentially embodies the whole novel just in one image. Sawsan was clearly inspired by the works of graphic design pioneer Saul Bass.
5. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
The Jungle is an all-telling novel that reveals the disturbing nature of food producing factories in the early 20th century. The image of the pig acting as a puppet to a man, is what makes this re-imagined cover by Wade Greenberg, so compelling to potential readers. It is insane how one image can represent an entire novel in one fell swoop.
6. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina mainly focuses on the trials and tribulations of Anna herself, but it also deals with other pressing issues like politics, social class, love, family and gender throughout its long 864 pages. This re-imagined cover by Victoria Fernandez, really embodies the deep Russian roots within the story, as well as the personalty of Anna.
7. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
This re-imagined cover by Jeff Walters, is simple and modern, but still captures the essence of the well-known story of a fearless young boy living deep in the jungle.
8. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
This iconic story of intersecting characters progressing through vast amounts of time during the French Revolution, is one that is well known–mostly because of the musical. The re-imagined version of the cover by Jon Cain, showcases a ripped up and broken down flag that is both representative of France at that time, as well as the people/characters living through it all. This cover is also eye catching for potential readers who may want to dive into this 1500 page book.
Be sure to check out Recovering the Classics to see hundreds of more book covers.