Monday, April 30, 2012

April Classics Challenge: Book Covers

Posted by Connie

It's been a little while since we've posted for the Classics Challenge, but I decided to jump back into it this month. Lately, I have been chipping away at Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, and since I'm in the midst of moving, it's taking me longer than usual, and it's also the only thing I have time to read. Hence my lack of reviews.

Enough disclaimers. On to the discussion. The questions for this month are:
  • What are your first impressions of the cover?
  • Does the cover reflect the character, setting, or plot?
  • If you designed a book cover, what would you have chosen?
Anna Karenina has been released so many times, so it has had many a cover. Here's the one I'm reading (since this is the translation Ingrid recommended):

I am about 65% through the book, so I cannot definitively say this, but thus far, I do not remember an instance when any character has bare legs and holds some flowers dramatically between them. So unless that comes later (and who knows, perhaps it does), I'm thinking this is not meant to be a literal representation of any particular event in the book.

So let's look at it in the abstract. The legs are bare, and though nowadays women parade around in super-mini-skirts, such was not the fashion among high society in 1870s Russia. So between the nakedness of the legs and the flowers, it could be alluding to Anna's affair with Vronsky (her "de-flowering", if you want to get vulgar), or even more abstractly, the loss of her innocence. Also, the purples are in color while everything else is in black and white, making for an overall dramatic and tragic feel -- perfectly fitting the story of Anna Karenin.

Man, I had to pick a hard cover, didn't I? Other Anna Karenina covers would have been a lot more obvious, like these:
 Anna is so sad that she's ruining her life, so she lies dramatically on the chaise.
Anna is beautiful and high society but oh so sad and tragic, so she leans on the table to keep from fainting from the sadness and tragedy of it all.
Anna Karenina is a modern, haute couture model trying desperately to get her picture on the cover of Marie Claire.

All right, you Anna Karenina fans out there, what do you make of the flowers and legs cover?