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Picturing a World

Artists' dust jackets

While I was Buchaning around the web recently, Rockwell Kent's art for Mountain Meadow landed me in The Illustrated Dust Jacket, 1920–1970 by Martin Salisbury. I borrowed a copy from the library. As soon as I opened it, I was bowled over by the feel of its paper, the beauty of its page design, the clarity of its reproductions—not to mention the quality of the jacket designs it reproduces.

Turning the pages made clear, moreover, that there really was a degree of period coherence even while there were big differences among the artists. (When I looked back at The Mole Family's Christmas, for instance, I could see that Lillian Hoban belonged.) And it was great fun to recognize familiar books, then realize that someone unexpected had done the cover art—Edward Gorey for Lucky Jim!

Salisbury's text is deeply informative about the development of illustrated jacket art from 1920 to 1970 and about individual artists. As you can guess, it should provide points of departure for future blog posts. Meanwhile, for two enthusiastic reviews with more examples of individual book jackets, click here and here.

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