Sylvia Plath new book cover

(17 Posts)
TeiTetua Mon 04-Feb-13 13:47:54

I know a woman who had never read any Jane Austen until her partner encouraged her. So she went out and read Pride and Prejudice and then said, "This is chick-lit written by a genius."

I don't know. I suppose I am really objecting to people calling all sorts of very different kinds of book 'chick lit'.

And the way it implies women ought to have the free time/energy to be reading Worthy Books (ideally, presumably, written by men). I'm well aware some good books I've seen called 'chick lit' are quite light reading, but what's wrong with that?

FloatyBeatie Mon 04-Feb-13 12:30:15

Yes, I'm sure that's right LRD. I don't really know what contemporary "chicklit" is like because I don't think that I've read anything that comes under that category (except perhaps for Briget Jones Diary? which is great fun). But it seems reasonable to say that Jane Austen is chicklit, and her stuff of course is melt-in-the-mouth brilliance.

I don't really know what chicklit means. Does it mean books written by and marketed at women, or does it mean stories about women making the transition from singlehood to married/partnered life? Or something else? Or perhaps it just means putting a disparaging twist on anything the user wants to attach it to?

I agree completely with that floaty. And I can see that the cover doesn't make sense for her book and is quite 'performing femininty'.

But it does piss me off no end that 'chick lit' has such a bad reputation. Some chicklit is (IMHO) a load of patriarchy-masturbating shite. Some chicklit is brilliant. But the sort of people who sneer at chicklit aren't distinguishing between the two kinds, they're just assuming something written by women and marketed at women must be shite.

FloatyBeatie Mon 04-Feb-13 09:40:08

The Shriver article talks a bit about how hypermale the image of the American "Great Novelist" is. I'm re-reading Tender is the Night at the moment, and it is striking (at the early stage of the book that I've reached) that the central character is a man who feels too undamaged to be truly great -- he says that he is intact and therefore incomplete. So what does he do? He falls in love with a woman who is mentally ill, he kind of apprehends fracture through her own damage, to break out of his sterile intactness.

The "great American novelist" is stereotypically a man who is damaged, often by alcoholism, and there seems something interesting about the way that a female character's damage becomes in this book not the source of her own creativity, but a resource for a man's creativity. I can't remember the book well enough to know whether this demotion of a woman's personality is addressed for what it is. I think it must be, I think that must be the trend of the book. I bloody hope so.

FloatyBeatie Mon 04-Feb-13 09:31:51

I've been looking hard at the image and I just can't see how they have done anything with the generic "beauty trope" that actually engages with the book.

As I recall, the bit at the beginning of the book where she is working for a woman's publication is all about the absolute terror and despair that comes with early brilliance, and perfectionism and self-doubt. Terrible pressures that face huge talent. It isn't really to do with pressures around the expectations of appearance. The book is partly about being female for sure, but it is also about being brilliant.

One way of trivialising women is to say that all of their crises are specifically about being women. We can also be fucked up by being poets etc. And then there is of course a further trivialisation in saying that all of the crises about being a woman are connected with the performance of your own appearance.

A friend just tried to tell me that it's a comment on oppressive beauty standards. I think if it's trying to be 'ironic' its missed the mark hugely! Anyone agree with her?

You can still have a modern and attractive cover without... that.

FloatyBeatie Mon 04-Feb-13 08:50:07

I agree Greythorne that there is a relevant content in the book. But I don't think the cover really addresses that content. My guess was more that it provided a pretext for the cover.

Greythorne Mon 04-Feb-13 08:46:19

I find the Anne of Green Gables updated cover much much worse!

Greythorne Mon 04-Feb-13 08:37:27

I am not totally sure...going to go out on a limb here, but the novel is about a young women working at a women's magazine 'Ladies' Day' (I think) and Plath herself did work for a magazine (Vogue or Mademoiselle or one of those) primarily concerned with outward appearance.

I am on the fence. It is a hideous cover and the colours are awful, but I am not sure it is not entirely unconnected with the content of the novel.

AbigailAdams Mon 04-Feb-13 08:29:37

It is a good article FloatyBeatie. Thanks for linking. Bidisha is also good on this subject.

FloatyBeatie Mon 04-Feb-13 08:22:46

Actually, the Shriver article isn't quite good; it's very bloody good.

FloatyBeatie Mon 04-Feb-13 08:06:53

It's VERY depressing, isn't it. The mere fact that it is written my a woman is enough for categorising it as chicklit. Lionel Shriver wrote quite a good guardian piece about this a year or so ago. I'll dig it out later and link.

tribpot Mon 04-Feb-13 08:05:39

Dear God. I'm assuming the person in charge of the publication had simply not read the book. What a bloody crime.

KenDoddsDadsDog Mon 04-Feb-13 08:03:13

Good god - that's my favourite book. Definitely wont be buying the special edition.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fluffywhitekittens Mon 04-Feb-13 07:57:34

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