I’m sure you will probably know which particular outrage has prompted me to write this. In case you didn’t, here is the new cover for Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Penguin UK.
If this is the first time you are seeing this, then take a moment. If not read ahead …….
I wouldn’t have probably known about this at all had it not been for my recent decision to join twitter. Knowing aside, I got to witness the outrage first hand. The comments from the people ranged from “it sexualises the character” to “where is the chocolate/factory ??”.
Penguin’s explanation for the cover was provided in their blog post as follows
This new image for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory looks at the children at the centre of the story, and highlights the way Roald Dahl’s writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life, ready for Charlie’s debut amongst the adult titles in the Penguin Modern Classics series.
Ok you cannot disagree when someone wants to interpret something in their own way and see things through a different lens. There can be no better example of what contrast individual interpretations can bring – here is the deluxe edition by Penguin USA.
Where do I stand on this issue ?
Personally I have never attached a lot of importance to book covers, special editions, etc. – its just never entered my decision-making process while buying a book (such a blasphemous thing to say in the blogosphere !). After having bought a book for various other reasons, I may admire the cover – I have even discussed the covers of certain books with my mother – but thats about it.
Coming to this particular cover, I’m not going to say its “sexual” – that just seems too extreme a statement. But I have to confess that the kid’s stare does creep me out – something about it is very unnerving.
To the question of whether the story can be viewed at from a fresh perspective – of course it can ! Any work of literature leaves itself open to numerous interpretations but isn’t that something we want to leave to the readers ? If a sensitive reader wants to read between the lines, good for him/her but if someone wants to just treat it as a light read, so be it. To employ the book cover to suggest a perspective seems unnecessary and a tad overbearing.
As the outrage dies down, it seems that even a widely acceptable cover wouldn’t have been able to generate this much publicity. This one has taken the internet by storm and now even finds itself sharing space with others in a list of 5 worst book covers ever.
What do you think of this ? Agree ? Disagree ? Toeing the middle line ? Type away!