Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë needs no introduction. Jane Eyre walked into my life when I was in high school as a prize for academic achievement. Though, I didn’t open this book until I got out of school. I was deceived by the ‘Puffin Classics’ printed on top of the cover.
Puffin Classics has published Classics in both its abridged as well as unabridged forms. The copy I hold is unabridged, published in 1994. The constant bell in my head to search for unabridged version was to see the beige colour cover with red banner. So this olive green cover with a beautiful woman on the cover hinted only at being the abridged version or one with page long explanations for important chapters. Seriously, what the Dickens was I thinking for all the years that went by!
Once I began to read, I was mesmerized by Brontë’s writing, the style, and the story. Jane Eyre has since then remained my favourite fictional character. This book reads like the autobiographical journey of Jane Eyre since her childhood until having a family of her own. It is an unconventional story, especially for the time it was published. Jane Eyre is an independent, self-reliant woman who overcomes adversity and societal norms on her own terms.
Jane Eyre was first published in 1847 under the male pen name of Currer Bell. The readers of the time could not have gauged a woman writer to come out with this strong intensity in the narrative. Bronte continued to keep the correspondence with her appreciators under the pseudonym of Currer Bell for almost a year.
The first edition of ‘Jane Eyre’ did not contain a preface. It was a year after the release that she added the Preface with her reflection on the reviews, responses, and speculations regarding the novel. While thanking the readers for the adulation, she described Jane Eyre as ‘a plain tale with few pretensions.’
Charlotte Brontë gave her gratitude:
‘To the Public, for the indulgent ear it has inclined to a plain tale with few pretensions.
To the Press, for the fair field its honest suffrage has opened to an obscure aspirant.
To my Publishers, for the aid their tact, their energy, their practical sense and frank liberality have afforded an unknown and unrecommended Author.’
There were a few critics too, who found fault with the frank portrayal of the romantic relationship in the book, issues with the unconventional Christianity and outspoken views of the female protagonist.
In the final part of the Preface, Brontë appreciated William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair, for being ‘the first social regenerator of the day’. And, she dedicated this second edition of ‘Jane Eyre’ to Thackeray.
Amongst the popular book covers, it has been either Jane Eyre in a picture or a portrait form on the cover or the traditional rust orange jacket.
I found this very distinct book cover from the Harper Perennial Deluxe Editions. It takes the fire as the main imagery on the cover in reference to the fire at Thornsfield.
To end the post, it was strange to find this German edition with the picture of sheeps on the cover, so sharing it with you my READERS. Does it intend to point to the ‘lamb-like submission’ expected from women in the society as Jane thinks would please Mr.Rochester when she met him in Thornsfield?