Ali Johnson and Jim Quail of Liverpool-based design studio Dorothy had a hit with their music-based graphics, which recast seminal alternative, psychedelic, electronic, 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 Road, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Road.
And understandably, the eyes have it when it comes to 1984, A 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?
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 Women, Dracula, 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.
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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.
I recently re-read Jane Eyre and I can’t say I understand the triangles either.
Nice information about novels.