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Tenure

Ayn Rand's book covers

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I told my ex-gf, whilst we were going out, about what a great book 'The Fountainhead' was. So, she went out and bought it. I was rather happy about this, but as soon as I saw the copy she was reading, something immediately struck me about the cover, that could lead to a very negative reading of the book. The cover was this:

9780141188621.jpg

There is something I find inherently disgusting about this picture. The first thing that grabbed me was that... what is that, a helmet on Dominique's head? And those dim eyes and tightly drawn, bored expression - I mean yes, that would describe Dominque early on, but it is not the essence of the book. I find it very unlikely that the artist's intention was to show this specific part of the novel as the perfect cover, because they simply liked that bit. I think it was done deliberatly to give a negative impression of the book.

I say this, upon looking at the other cover in this series of printings:

41HUYTEhU9L.jpg

This is, I assume, meant to be Hank Rearden - now, whilst I appreciate the use of that very rich looking jacket and the scarf, the immediate impression I recieve is not a man who looks just as comfortable in smart dress as overalls, but instead of a man smothered by his own wealth. Look how disproportionate his head is to his body! He has, as with Dominque previously, a cynical look in his face. And look at the dreary world behind him - not to show it being shrugged off, that would be acceptable, but instead just there for being dreary and distorted. I question further, what is the intent of this artist, to select these characters for the covers of these novels, and to present them at their most cynical or bored? Is this their judgement of the characters, and the one they wish readers to draw as well?

I will finish by asking you why this is done. Do publishers sometimes deliberatly choose covers that give a negative impression of the book, if they do not like it? That seems quite contrary to profit making, especially if its such a well selling book as one by Ayn Rand.

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Do publishers sometimes deliberatly choose covers that give a negative impression of the book, if they do not like it?
No, they don't. Most likely they created a specification for the artist, saying something like, "give us something in the style of the railway era, but modern-looking", and they got this back and thought it fit the bill.

I don't like those covers either, because I find them too "dark" for my taste.

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No, they don't. Most likely they created a specification for the artist, saying something like, "give us something in the style of the railway era, but modern-looking", and they got this back and thought it fit the bill.

I don't like those covers either, because I find them too "dark" for my taste.

Just for clarification, Tamara De Limpicka painted these way before the books were ever written.

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Just for clarification, Tamara De Limpicka painted these way before the books were ever written.

Correct. The cover is dated 1925. TF at 1943 (if I remember right).

The painting on the cover is titled "Autoportrait" or also "Woman in the Green Bugatti."

http://www.paloma.ca/bugatti.html

Autoportrait became an icon of an era. It is easily one of Tamara de Lempicka most recognized works through it's reproduction in numerous magazines and books over the decades. The Art Deco version of the liberated woman in her brightly colored car has come to represent the newly discovered freedom of women of the day.

Bugatti's are known for their speed. I don't know if that is an actual helmet she is wearing, as you called it. It may be some sort of 20's hat. Not sure. I don't have time to look into it right now...

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I think this series of cover are my least favorite. I prefer the Atlas one; it's less dark and more meaningful. The train one for the "centennial edition" was bland, and this train one on an audio CD looks more like the cover for a spooky story. I don't quite get the older paperback one, but that's one I owned from two decades ago, and I'm quite attached to it :D.

I really like the newer series of "mass market paperbacks", that have a lot of white background, though the statue of Atlas shown on the AS cover in the series, isn't that good.

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I actually really like those "mass market paperbacks". Those are the editions I have, but then, as I said before, I'm a fan of photography as an artform. I like the use of real-life objects taken through a filter and placed on their own, representing a theme of the book. Like, 'We The Living' is very obvious with its razor wire, as is Atlas Shrugged, but The Fountainhead has those girders that express the frame work which a man builds, and around which he builds his life.

I still think those ones by that Romantic Realist artist are the best, the first one sNerd linked. They perfectly skewer the exact meaning of each book she wrote.

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Why do they have to change covers every year? The Gaetano covers were perfect for the books.

I believe that the covers Tenure shows are the UK edition covers published by Penguin. The US publisher is Plume so that would explain the different covers.

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Of the two Tenure posted the first one isn’t too bad, but the second is awful. The cynical, downward pointed face doesn't make any sense for the novel. However, the first could be seen as a beautiful, sultry, and serious woman driving fast in her high performance Bugatti. The hat she’s wearing is probably a 1920s driving hat. They had that sort of style back then.

One work that might work for Atlas Shrugged is one Greedy Capitalist linked to, by Tamara de Lempicka:

Dagny with the Chain Bracelet?

Very nice. :)

Hmmm... Maybe not perfectly emblematic of AS, but it's a much better than the one they chose.

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Of the two Tenure posted the first one isn’t too bad, but the second is awful. The cynical, downward pointed face doesn't make any sense for the novel.

I do love TF cover, but did you know the AS cover painting is actually of Tamara de Lempicka's husband? Also his left hand is unfinished, it was initially supposed to have a wedding ring on it, but their marriage was "strained" at the time and was left unfinished. What's even more interesting is this:

Her husband eventually tired of their arrangement; he abandoned her in 1927, and they were divorced in 1928. Obsessed with her work and her social life, de Lempicka neglected more than her husband; she rarely saw her daughter.

That painting is probably to be associated with Rearden, and for more than just a mere physical resemblance...

The hat she’s wearing is probably a 1920s driving hat. They had that sort of style back then.

I thought so! :)

Edited by intellectualammo

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Of the two Tenure posted the first one isn’t too bad, but the second is awful. The cynical, downward pointed face doesn't make any sense for the novel. However, the first could be seen as a beautiful, sultry, and serious woman driving fast in her high performance Bugatti. The hat she’s wearing is probably a 1920s driving hat. They had that sort of style back then.

Indeed, I like the first cover. I see a hard-to-get, serious woman driving somewhere with a purpose. That's attractive. I think there are a few fundamental differences between me and the person who would describe it as "disgusting." I don't think it's an ideal cover, but I think it's a good one.

I don't think the second cover fits Atlas Shrugged, mostly because the man doesn't seem to resemble anyone from the story, and there aren't any other connections between the two. I disagree with the idea that he looks "cynical." Like the previous cover, I think he looks serious, not bitter, disgusted or angry with the world. I don't think the world behind him is necessarily "dreary," either. When I think of Rearden's factories, I don't think green grass and rainbows. I think dark buildings run by shadow figures who illuminate their surroundings by tossing molten metal and sparks through the air while toiling in the heat. And all of that being mysterious, serious, and worth it. If I remember correctly, Rand described the majesty of the cities in these books by describing what they looked like at night, in blackness, from other tall buildings. I do see how it's vapid compared to what it could be, but I don't think it's necessarily gloomy.

I like the concept of the newest covers, all white with different colored objects on each. But I think the covers individually are stale and boring. The last generation of covers by Nick Gaetano, in my opinion, were the best.

The train cover for the centennial edition of Atlas Shrugged is a copy of AS's cover when it was originally published in 1957. Same with the cover for the centennial edition of The Fountainhead, which I think is pretty cool because I like that cover a lot.

Edited by cilphex

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The "modern classics" covers are disgusting. It's horrible. They express the exact opposite of AR's sense of life. The Atlas Shrugged cover gives off the impression of a dark, menacing, powerfully evil robber baron ready to exploit the living hell out of you for the sake of his steel buildings and factories and industrial riches (in the background). Almost like he is looming over the world, like an Uncle Scrooge in his prime. It doesn't glorify the industrialist at all, it vilifies him. It's malevolent universe, and it has a sort of Picasso touch to it. The same goes for the picture of "Dominique"--both are grotesque, and Peikoff should have his legal guns out right now in trying to get the rights of these publishers taken away.

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I also love the Gaetano covers, but I was generally under-whelmed when I searched for more of his work:

God me too. I couldn't believe it was the same guy at first. Looking at his paintings is like watching that movie, "A Space Odyssey: 2001" again and again. B)

I'd have to say, his "mercury" illustration is my favorite.

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All of the covers that were painted by Nick Gaetano are available via Quent Cordair Fine Art. There is a built in discount for orders of three or more and we happily offer an interest-free lay away plan. Bryan Larsen was chosen a few years ago to paint the new covers. The publisher changed their minds at the last minute, but Bryan still created some wonderful "Atlas Shrugged" inspired paintings from the sketches that he submitted. They are available as a set or as individual prints.

Edited by Linda

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That decision by the publisher should have been set to the echoing "D'oh!" Homer Simpson let out with once.

The lightbulb they ended up using for Anthem makes a little sense. Not much, mind you, but a little. No doubt Bryan Larsen could have done better before he was done rubbing the sleep from his eyes that morning.

The rest is complete garbage.

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