By now you may have heard about publisher Faber's new book cover for The Bell Jar, and the fact a lot of people aren't exactly thrilled with it.

The new sleeve, below, features a young woman applying makeup in a small mirror and was released to mark the 50th anniversary of Sylvia Plath's semi-autobiographical novel.

Most of the criticism has came from people who feel Faber have made The Bell Jar look like just another piece of 'chick-lit', and in doing so have trivialised a classic piece of modern fiction.

bell jar


Feminist blog Jezebel raged: "For a book all about a woman's clinical depression that's exacerbated by the suffocating gender stereotypes of which she's expected to adhere and the limited life choices she has as a woman, it's pretty … stupid to feature a low-rent retro wannabe pinup applying makeup." The London Review of Books, meanwhile, simply called the cover "silly".

For their part, Faber have defended the cover in a statement saying that the idea is to appeal to new readers, saying: "We think there is a reader for this novel who could enjoy its brilliance without knowing anything about the poetry, or the broader context of Plath's work."

Feminist writer Naomi Wolf weighed in to back the publishers, telling the Guardian: "I see nothing wrong with this – except perhaps that some young women seeking a lightweight beach read might get unexpectedly very depressed."

What do you think? Does the new cover do Plath and her only novel a disservice? Or worse, does it contribute to a wider social problem of women being marginalised or patronised in the arts?

Or is a young woman contemplating her own reflection while applying the social 'mask' of makeup actually an ideal metaphor for the book, all the better if it attracts new audiences to the Plath?

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