New Design For Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four Highlights Theme Of Censorship

New Design For Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four Highlights Theme Of Censorship

David Pearson reworks the classic novel cover to reference its plot.

Allie Walker
  • 4 january 2013

If you haven’t read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, you can guess a major theme just by looking at this new cover design. Spoiler alert: the book deals heavily with censorship, which designer David Pearson brings to life by covering the black, debossed letters of the title and author with two bars of matt black foil. The choice creates a startling effect- look at the book from far away, and you’ll only be able to tell it’s a Penguin book.

The new cover design is part of Penguin’s ‘Great Orwell’ series, a re-release of five of Orwell’s greatest works. Pearson and his team designed all five covers for the ‘Great Orwell’ editions, and although Pearson refers to Nineteen Eighty-Four as the ‘risk taker of the series,’ each of the re-booted cover designs stands out as fresh and thought-provoking. When PSFK asked Pearson about the bold choice for Nineteen Eighty-Four, he told us his inspiration was ‘born out of altering/erasing the identity of the book,’ adding, ‘using classic Penguin livery – which everyone knows and understands – allowed for this sort of fun and games — I would argue that the idea wouldn’t work otherwise.’

Pearson also sent PSFK a rough copy of the original cover design for Nineteen Eighty-Four, which unfortunately had to be scrapped for financial reasons:

David Pearson George Orwell Original

Although it’s a shame the original design was scrapped, the final design is sure to stand out on bookstore shelves- and although Pearson humorously jokes about the blacked-out title’s chances for digital sales, saying, ‘I can’t vouch for its success on Amazon,’ we’d have to disagree; the covered nature only made us want to find out more about the book, perhaps further drawing inspiration from the novel and Winston’s quest for the truth.

Click through the cover designs for the other works in the ‘Great Orwell’ series below. The series¬†coincides with Penguin’s inaugural ‘Orwell Day,’¬†which will celebrate the author’s legacy on January 21st.:

David Pearson // Penguin


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