Vintage Reads #47: The Classics Remastered

I read a lot of garbage - I fully admit it.  However, I will also tell you I've read more than my share of classics.  I can appreciate both for what they are.  Without the classics, your mind lacks any meaningful stimuli; your worldview shrinks.  Nothing profound is going to come out of an el cheapo paperback thriller (although, there is something to be said for reading just for entertainment's sake).

Don't worry, I won't launch into a long diatribe about the value of reading classical literature.  You got plenty of that from your bromidic 10th grade English teacher, so I'll spare you.  But the thought occurred to me that paperbacks used to use all sorts of compelling imagery to lure their readers in.... yet the covers of the classics are often dull and lifeless.  While the action and espionage paperbacks featured ninjas and naked chicks to get their books off the shelf, the covers of classics are often sad little pastoral scenes or a boring photograph/painting of the author.  What if we used the same tactics for the Great Books?

Of course, the ship has sailed.  It's much too late to take this tactic now.  But what if they had employed it back when these sorts of covers really did move people to buy them?  Let's have a look at a few more examples of what could have been bait to lure the ignorant masses to the classics.

Sure, the covers are completely dishonest.  But what else is new?  It's a time honored tradition among movie posters and paperback covers to entice consumers; whether it bears any real resemblance to the product itself is not even an afterthought.

Check out a few more samples from The Retrospace Library of World Literature.


  1. That Grapes of Wrath painting is amazing - groovy and wild, yet still has some bad perspectives going on, making the hot brunette look a bit Picassoish.

  2. I like the Camus cover:

    Nietzsche commenting a book written 42 years after his death!

    1. Nietzsche might have just been stronger--not dead--for those 42 years.

  3. Hilarious! I just finished Moby Dick, maybe that's too obvious a selection for this treatment.

  4. Heh, I have that 'Grapes of Wrath' book - Seminar in Evil by Daoma Winston - spooky groovy read!

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  6. You may have hit on the "dirty little secret" that proper English teachers have been afraid to talk about. Once labeled as "classic" a work must be properly worshiped and revered. Nothing else will do.

    Now, 150 years ago the publishing industry was no more honest and socially conscience then it is today. If cheap printing and bulk cover artists were available then, as in the Fleet Street Penny Dreadfuls, there is no reason to think publishers would NOT have used this stalwart tactic to clear the shelves of some new and upcoming author like Dickens.

    However, now theses "classics" (def: only still sold because English teachers require them) MUST be in leather binding with gold leaf pages. Never mind that we don't read them. It is enough just to own them and display them on your shelf. Sort of like your Christmas decorations each year.

  7. I recognize the Nickoli Gogol cover !! Cherry Delight !! That was a fantastic book series !!