Monday, March 26, 2007

Making a Looker Out of Plain Jane Austen

Well, Jane Austen has received a posthumous makeover.

Here is Jane "before" in a portrait done by her sister Cassandra while the author lived:

Reports are that this was not a true image of Jane, that Cassandra's art was off and "hideous." Okay, maybe.

Here is the after:

Look. We don't really know what Jane looked like, although contemporaries reported her as attractive. Now, her books will show her as attractive. It certainly is a nicer image, cause what it comes down to is that Cassandra's portrait is really unappealing, as it gives Jane a dour and grumbly look. I don't imagine Jane Austen as pinch-mouthed and mean looking.

I am disturbed by the comments from the publisher:

Helen Trayler, the publisher's managing director, said: "She was not much of a looker. Very, very plain. Jane Austen wasn't very good looking. She's the most inspiring, readable author, but to put her on the cover wouldn't be very inspiring at all. It's just a bit off-putting.

"I know you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover. Sadly people do. If you look more attractive, you just stand out more. Sadly, we do live in a very shallow world and people do judge by appearance."

So, people are shallow and you just give in to it? Frankly, I think anyone out to purchase an Austen doesn't give a fig what she looked like. I would just put something nice on the cover, and ditch the ugly Cassandra portrait. Lots of images could portray a Regency milieu, a country estate, etc. Why does one need a portrait of Jane at all?

Emily Dickinson wasn't good looking, but who cares? Her poems had enough beauty. Why does the look of an author matter, really? Are we really that dumb to not buy a book cause the author's plain or fat or dorky or pimply?

Well, shoot, if they're gonna be fair, I expect to see makeovers of Whitman and Poe and Tennyson and Shakespeare. Those dudes were not exactly Gerard Butlers...

1 comment:

SolShine7 said...

I just finished watching Pride & Prejudice again, the Keira Knightley one. At first I thought Knightley was "too pretty" to play Elizabeth and McFayden "too ugly" to play Mr. Darcy but then I watched the movie and it all made sense.

Whatever Austen looked like, Pride & Prejudice makes sense in every way that matters. It's near perfect. Splendid on all accounts!!!

If only all books could come with pretty covers and great content.

Good post!