I’m fascinated with book cover art: how publishers, designers, and artists make choices to represent a book is kind of a cool possible subfield of lit. studies and way to remind students (and oneself) of the existence of a marketplace, book-as-commodity, and genre branding.

So, a couple years ago when I was teaching Oryx and Crake, the cover of the new edition the bulk of my students were using kept picking at my brain. It seemed so familiar, but I couldn’t immediately figure out why.  The original U.S. paperback used art from the left (Eden) panel of Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights: an extremely appropriate choice (and one I would use as a way to bring past visions of ideal social arrangements vis-a-vis Christian myth into contrast with the novel). The new edition featured more futuristic and less obviously-related art that sort-of derailed my lesson plan.  Here are the two editions.

Cover art for first U.S. edition paperback (2004)

Cover art for 2009 edition (Year of the Flood tie-in)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took me a couple days before it hit me: the new cover art was an homage, or at least oblique reference, to the iconic U.S. edition of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The resemblance is pretty subtle, I guess, based on the leaves framing the eyes, but it is there nonetheless, and I doubt it was mere coincidence on the artist’s part.  There are interesting questions on how this allusion might be read, and I think the flower over the feminine subject’s mouth is quite interesting and a nice comment on the novel, but I’m going to table those topics since there’s one more cover to get to.

This is the German edition/translation of The Hunger Games (Die Tribute von Panem):

Die Tribute von Panem

A cover for The Hunger Games riffing on Lord of the Flies is an obvious choice, even if I don’t care for the execution of the art on this one.  The weirdest thing about this is the girl on the cover’s eyes: they’re green.  Katniss’s are grey, so it seems like a mistake on the part of the artist/design team.  However, here’s some food for thought:  In Oryx and Crake, Crake’s are green, and the Crakers also have green eyes (what Snowman ironically calls “Crake’s aesthetic”).

Conspiracy?  Coincidence?  Are there other novels with cover art that seems to allude to this Lord of the Flies cover?

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