Behold 84 Great Novels Reinterpreted as Modernist Postage Stamps

Ali John­son and Jim Quail of Liv­er­pool-based design stu­dio Dorothy had a hit with their music-based graph­icswhich recast sem­i­nal alter­na­tivepsy­che­del­icelec­tron­ic, and post-punk albums as over­sized postage stamps.

Now, they’ve turned their atten­tion and knack for high­ly con­densed visu­al respons­es to the realms of lit­er­a­ture.

Their Mod­ern Clas­sics col­lec­tion, above, syn­the­sizes 42 titles into some­thing emblem­at­ic and essen­tial.

How many have you read?

How many would you be able to iden­ti­fy based on image alone?

It’s easy to grasp why the hori­zon fig­ures promi­nent­ly in On The RoadThe Grapes of Wrath, and The Road.

And under­stand­ably, the eyes have it when it comes to 1984A Clock­work Orange, and Slaugh­ter­house-Five.

Else­where, the visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tions cre­ate con­nec­tions that may take read­ers by sur­prise.

(Stay tuned for a mas­ter’s the­sis that teas­es out the­mat­ic par­al­lels between The Col­or Purple’s quilts and Hold­en Caulfield’s red hunt­ing hat in The Catch­er in the Rye.)

Accord­ing to John­son, she and Quail, avid read­ers both, fell out sev­er­al times over which titles to include (and, by exten­sion, exclude).

Eng­lish teach­ers at mid­dle and high school lev­el will rejoice at the num­ber of syl­labus favorites that made the cut.

Poten­tial stamp-themed cre­ative assign­ments abound.

The conch may be an obvi­ous choice for Lord of the Flies, but what of The Great Gats­by’s green light?

Why not the eyes of Doc­tor T. J. Eck­le­burg?

swim­ming pool?

Or one of those beau­ti­ful shirts?


Then make your own stamp!

Stu­dents are far less like­ly to be con­ver­sant in the 42 ear­li­er works com­pris­ing Dorothy’s lit­er­ary Clas­sics stamps, though musi­cal and movie adap­ta­tions of Lit­tle WomenDrac­u­la, and Les Mis­er­ables should pro­vide a toe­hold.

Our igno­rance is such, we may need to reread Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jane Eyre … or at least Google the sig­nif­i­cance of a spoon and all those orange and red tri­an­gles.

(Back in our pre-dig­i­tal youth, Cliff’s Notes were the pre­ferred Philis­tine option…)

Dorothy’s stamp prints of Clas­sics and Mod­ern Clas­sics are avail­able for pur­chase on their web­site.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Good Movies as Old Books: 100 Films Reimag­ined as Vin­tage Book Cov­ers

157 Ani­mat­ed Min­i­mal­ist Mid-Cen­tu­ry Book Cov­ers

Clas­sic Songs Re-Imag­ined as Vin­tage Book Cov­ers Dur­ing Our Trou­bled Times: “Under Pres­sure,” “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” “Shel­ter from the Storm” & More

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­maol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

by | Permalink | Comments (2) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (2)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.