Classics Challenge – April: Book Covers

This year I am taking part in a Classics Challenge hosted by Katherine of November’s Autumn. The goal is to read at least seven classics in 2012 and every month Katherine will be posting a prompt to help us discuss the book we are reading. I missed answering last month’s question, on the subject of settings, but might go back and answer that one at a later date. This month the focus is on book covers.

The classic novel I’m currently reading is Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, which I’m really enjoying and finding easier to read than I had expected. Now that I’m no longer intimidated by him I’m sure I’ll be reading more of his work in the future. I’ll be posting my thoughts on Ivanhoe after I’ve finished the book.

I’m reading this novel as a free ebook and it doesn’t actually have a cover image, so instead I’m going to look at the covers of a few different editions of Ivanhoe.

This is the cover of the Penguin Classics edition. The cover image shows ‘detail from a 15th century French illuminated manuscript showing a tournament‘.

And here is the cover of the Oxford World’s Classics edition. The cover illustration is ‘Knight Enters the Lists at the Eglinton Tournament, of Archibald William Montgomery (13th Earl of Eglinton) by Edward Henry Corbauld (1815-1905)‘.

The third image I want to include here is the cover of the Wordsworth Classics edition. As you can see, this one is very different to the other two and shows ‘A medieval knight with his young lover (1898) by P. Clarke‘.

It’s interesting that only one of these three publishers has chosen to focus on the romantic aspect of the novel – if you picked up one of the other two without knowing anything about the story you would never guess there was any romance involved.

What do you think? Which of these covers would make you more likely to read the book?

9 thoughts on “Classics Challenge – April: Book Covers

  1. Sam (Tiny Library) says:

    I like the Oxford edition but the one that would make me most likely to read the book is the Wordsworth edition. I had assumed Ivanhoe was all adventure/war, and the Wordsworth cover shows there is more to the story, so that would definitely grab my attention.

  2. Deb Atwood says:

    The Wordsworth, definitely! It seems more accessible/human to me. I’m not a huge fan of war narratives. (In truth, I sort of skimmed the war part of War and Peace to focus on the peace, but don’t tell Miss Hansen, my old English teacher.)

    Your post brings up a point I’ve been thinking about lately–using book covers and publisher blurbs. When I do book reviews, I put up my own images. Are there rules about using book covers and publisher summaries in blogs, and how do you capture them?

  3. Lisa says:

    That’s a tough call. I really like the Penguin cover design – the sharp colors, contrasted with the black sections – and the historic illustration. But I see your point about the Wordsworth cover. It’s been so long since I read Ivanhoe that I can’t remember much at all about the story.

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