With an intriguing foreword from Mike Tyler that throws Pride and Prejudice and humanity into perspective, I was thrilled to receive a copy of this book from New York’s The Art Cannot Be Damaged. Signed by Mike himself, I was seriously over-excited when it came in the mail after having fallen in love with the cover, as seen on my Top Ten Borders Pride and Prejudice Covers post. I have become deeply smitten holding it in print form. It’s terrific, well edited, and Tyler has me pondering new points about Pride and Prejudice, the book he refers to as: “There are great subjects and then there is the great subject. The great subject is love. You have in your hands … the book of love.”
He mentions that the structure of the book is “organic”, a point that I wholeheartedly agree with- it is written seamlessly. In the same way that judges on So You Think You Can Dance always lament that you shouldn’t be able to see the dancer “thinking” about the steps, you should never be able to see an author planning the next chapter. He explains that it is a novel about choices. About choosing to love, choosing your actions and that “A work of art, like love, is the ideal become real, and so in love we all get to be artists.” I might be gushing, but I adore this foreword for making me feel all “Squee” and squishy inside with romance over My Favourite Book once again. His focus on the importance, the duality, the multi-facets and the prominence of love sums up Pride and Prejudice perfectly.
While being very different to your average run-of-the-mill Pride and Prejudice cover (classical painting, possibly some sort of swirly unreadable calligraphy) it also holds the elements we adore: the barouche-landau, the large estates, the sense of romance and the unknown. The beautiful typography of the title. And then there’s a mobile phone on the ground. Amy Hills Halberda, the literary manager for The Art Cannot Be Damaged team says: “It is amazing though how fast technology changes. We have a “flip phone” on the cover and already that technology is a thing of the past!”. It’s updated, re-modelled and perfect for the younger artsy types to get their hands on.
Several things also really appealed to me about the layout. I adore the font, to start with, but my number one hang up with most classics is that I like to underline and add notes to my books- underscoring my favourite points, and basically scribbling thoughts all through it (to me, this is what books are for) and they never have room for me to write in, or the pages bleed the highlighter through to the other side. I don’t think this will be a problem with this copy, and it has beautiful wide margins all around the text.
The team at The Art Cannot Be Damaged also answered some questions for me about the book cover, as us journalists can’t resist from chucking in a couple of questions at any moment in time! It was a collaboration between Mike, Doug and Amy (who contacted me to send me a copy!).
Where did the inspiration come from for the cover? It’s very different to most Pride and Prejudice covers, what sort of feel were you going for?
The art was designed by an NYC based artist Doug Stromenger – he has also designed the cover art for our upcoming series, Sir Walter Scott’s IVANHOE. I cannot tell you the inspiration behind his art, but we did ask for a classic representation of the book, and I think he did a good job of that. As “book designer” I set up all of the type both on the cover and interior. I did do a great deal of research to find the different incarnations that the book has had from its initial printing to now. Most of the current paprback versions cram as many words on to the page as possible to make them cheaper to produce. We wanted to make sure that the book was readable and as true to its original form as possible, while being gun and attractive for young or first-time readers. The page numbering, for example, is based on the first edition of the book. The cell-phone txt on the back cover was written by Rumeka – based on the book of course. Again, just trying to make it accessible to a younger “hip” audience.
Were there any hurdles to jump over or was it a smooth process?
We try to make our book releases as fun as possible. We bounce ideas around until we find on that fits. This book was a really fun, easy release.
Did you look at any other covers for reference?
We did, there are so many versions of this book out there in the world (and so many that are boring and unattractive!). We made a conscious effort to create something that we found beautiful, fun and accessible.
What books are you looking at publishing in future?
Our next release in this series of Classics is Sir Walter Scott’s IVANHOE. Mike has a long list of favorites to release, we are going to try and aim for one a year from now on.
They not only sent me a copy of Pride and Prejudice but also review copies of Dog is Cat by Mike Tyler, and Mike Tyler’s The Warm Animals, both from The No. America series. The former, “The world as it is not as language makes it in 762 remarkable sayings” was completely up my street, particularly as a fan of the Penguin Book of Cliches, Words Words Words and other similarly phrase-centric books. It is, essentially, a long list of things compared by the word “is”, for instance: “mildew is dew”, “brook is missed”, “nurture is human” and “hierarchy is translucent” to name some favourites. I think this would be a great tool to help overcome a writer’s block or an uninspired moment. The latter is a book of thought-provoking and sometimes amusing poetry, that I heartily recommend getting a copy of. Tyler’s style is specific, but experimental and interesting- a bit of different poetry is brilliant, I get sick of reading the same measured lines again and again and I found this completely refreshing- you can check out a sample of it here.
To buy a copy of Pride and Prejudice, or any other The Art Cannot Be Damaged books, and browse more, head over the the official website Cute Poet.