So, I’m officially playing the part of a Victorian housewife here, reviewing a set of books that came out at least 140 years ago. I’m also going to play the part of a tunic-wearing Ancient Greek politician, reviewing books that came out when the world was run by inanimate objects personified by other tunic-wearing individuals…with super powers! I’m also playing the part of…you get the picture. These books are fucking old. Filled with the flowery language of poetic novelists who would rather show how extensive their vocabulary is than develop a plot. When I first purchased them, I tried to find someone to flip the pages while I urinated on them to recreate the classic, yellowing look of books that haven’t been touched for hundreds of years. But, I had trouble finding a volunteer.
Despite my disdainful comments, I’m ashamed to admit that I’m a stranger to most of these volumes. Recreational reading is actually a very recent activity for me, which is strange since I’m such an avid writer. And if I’m going to carry out my plan of pursuing an English degree, I feel like it would be a good idea to brush up on some classic pieces of literature. To be clear, this really isn’t a review of the content of these books, but of the stylish re-issue of these books that suckered me in to purchasing them, even including a few that I already owned.
What we have here are hardcover editions of timeless works issued by Penguin Classics. Quite honestly, I love a well thought out packaging, and these editions are absolutely beautiful. The hardcovers are designed by artist Coralie Bickford-Smith, with each book displaying a unique set of artistic patterns. I don’t think the designs always match the content of each book, but they’re attractive nonetheless. Each book is made the same exact size, except for thickness of course, so the spines line up flush and look great in the bookcase. The material is durable, the print is sophisticated and each volume comes with a ribbon marker. Generally, the books look rich, lavish and desirable.
Volumes included are ancient classics such as Dante’s Inferno, and The Odyssey; romance novels like Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights; mysteries like The Hound of the Baskervilles; poetry collections like The Sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint and the soon to be released Jabberwocky and Other Nonsense; and other personal favorites like Dracula, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Great Expectations. In fact, for fans of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, these hardcover editions include special extensive collections of both these authors’ works. Each book contains a huge amount of notes that provide history, commentary on the language, and points of interest.
All in all, I’m very impressed with what Penguin has done here. These stylish new editions titillate my senses and make even the duller stories seem a bit more colorful and desirable. I’m a completest, so I feel like eventually I’m going to have to collect them all. At this rate, I’m confident I’ll have a better understanding of literature that will aid me in my upcoming English classes. And for you dear readers, I highly recommend these volumes simply for their extravagant look and obviously for the quality of their content. I never thought I would ever be compelled to read a romance novel, and now thanks to these hardcover editions, I’m canceling my cellphone service and spending all my free time communicating to my girlfriend using poetry delivered by horseback…to my stepfather’s grave disapproval.