Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I Swear On The Cover Of The 1980s Reissue Of The Bible, I'm Not Making This First Bit Up

Back in the olden days, when I worked for Sherratt & Hughes (a bookshop chain long since gobbled up by Waterstones), we received a delivery of the latest edition of The Bible.

And when I say "latest edition", I don't mean it had a new foreword by the author and previously unseen material, but rather it was a trendy modern repackaging, with silvery lettering and skyscrapers on it like the opening of Dynasty (actually, that's appropriate when you think about all the begetting in the first book). Strangely enough, I can't seem to find a picture of it online, but you'll take my word for it, won't you? Thanks.

The reason I was thinking about this is because Wuthering Heights has recently been reissued in a form that's deliberately meant to lure in fans of the Twilight books and films, as you can see:

Obviously, I'm not the intended audience for this re-issue, but I don't really have any great objection to this packaging (mind you, I do think it's a bit blatant to use the tagline from Coppola's film version of Dracula, but I suppose it's only old farts like me who are expected to remember this, not fans of Robert Pattinson). I'm not entirely convinced that readers of Twilight will necessarily enjoy Bronte's book that much, but it might work for some people, and I suspect the hope is that they'll have bought it by then and that's another sale.

But in a way, lasting works or characters are often re-packaged and re-purposed in line with the prevailing mood of the times; take a look at the way that, say, books by Ian Fleming or Charles Dickens have changed over the years (often in line with some related TV or film adaptation). Even Shakespeare's plays get a frequent re-packaging, and as alluded to above, some vastly older volumes have had some profoundly groovy and hip covers. And - as is the case with Wuthering Heights - there are usually other, less zeitgeisty, editions available.

I'd guess that a lot of the fans of Twilight are fans of stuff like Harry Potter who have grown up (as opposed, of course, to grown-up fans of Harry Potter) and are now looking for something in a similar vein (...) though perhaps with a bit more repressed passion. That's my suspicion for the popularity of the Twilight stuff, anyway - I'm not lured in even out of is-it-good-or-bad curiosity, as I'm not particularly interested in vampires per se (for example, as much as I enjoyed Buffy, the presence of the v-word in the title was actually rather misleading, given all the other Monsters Of The Week).

And in fact, given the current mood of a large amount of the audience, I'm not in the least surprised to see that Oscar Wilde's only novel, in its latest screen incarnation, is being advertised thus:

Crafty. And given his own tendency for not-always-entirely-accurate self-promotion, I rather suspect Mr Wilde would have approved.

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