BOMB Magazine: Wrapping words up in images

Among book designers, Peter Mendelsund is the best reader of all. You always recognize one of his covers when you see it, and it’s not because he tends toward certain colors or typefaces—quite the opposite. Rather, it’s something about the way the cover illuminates the text. You can tell he didn’t just read the manuscript; he internalized it. The result somehow feels both inevitable and surprising: the only possible solution but one you could never dream up yourself.

Brief notes on The New Yorker redesign

When The New Yorker was founded, in 1925, by Harold Ross, it was conceived as both a bastion and a parody of cosmopolitan sophistication: As Ross famously put it in the magazine’s founding prospectus, “The New Yorker will be the magazine which is not edited for the old lady in Dubuque.”

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A century later, has E. M. Forster's happier year finally arrived?

In the opening scene of E.M. Forster’s novel Maurice, an adolescent Maurice Hall takes a long walk with his prep school teacher, Mr. Ducie, to learn about the mysteries of life. “To love a noble woman, to protect and serve her—this, he told the little boy, was the crown of life. . . . ‘It all hangs together—all—and God’s in his heaven, All’s right with the world. Male and female! Ah wonderful!”

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Designers under the bell jar

In 1966, a young designer at Faber and Faber named Shirley Tucker created an image that would become an icon of modern design. Her cover for the first edition of The Bell Jar to be published under Sylvia Plath’s name is a monument of restraint, the concentric circles depicting the protagonist Esther Greenwood’s descent into despair while evoking, subtly, the book’s title.

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