Covering Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald by Penguin Books UK on flickr.comOn their blog, Penguin Books UK recently posted the covers for their new hardback re-issue of several of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works. The foil artwork, by Coralie Bickford-Smith, is Art Deco in nature, echoing Fitzgerald’s times. The not-quite-symmetrical scallops on the cover of The Great Gatsby are quite striking, a commentary, perhaps, on the not-quite-harmonious contents within.

Every attempt at creating a cover for The Great Gatsby has to contend with Francis Cugat‘s iconic cover image, and I think Coralie Bickford-Smith takes the right approach here. Cugat’s image hews so perfectly to the novel that you can’t compete with it, and the Penguin cover instead takes a more muted, subtle tone—not an image but a feeling, a movement, an emotion.

And, one must add, the Penguin cover looks great with the other volumes in the re-issue series. Coherence of artistic cover vision within a series of books is so very important, and Penguin tends to get that aspect of series design correct, as seen in their Ian Fleming re-issues.

Yes, that's the killer yellow car.At any rate, the Penguin cover avoids the crimes of some earlier Gatsby covers, including this uncredited example from the 1946 Bantam Books paperback second edition. I applaud the effort, but that’s one long champagne glass stem…

(Top image by Penguin Books)

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