The Cover of George Orwell’s 1984 Becomes Less Censored with Wear & Tear

1984 before

In 2013, Pen­guin released in the UK a series of new cov­ers for five works by George Orwell, includ­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly bold cov­er design for Orwell’s best-known work, 1984. Accord­ing to Cre­ative Review, the design­er, David Pear­son, made it so that the book’s title and Orwell’s name were debossed, then almost com­plete­ly obscured by black foil­ing, leav­ing just “enough of a dent for the title to be deter­mined.” No doubt, the design plays on the whole idea of cen­sor­ship, “ref­er­enc­ing the rewrit­ing of his­to­ry car­ried out by the novel’s Min­istry of Truth.”

Years lat­er, you’ll have dif­fi­cul­ty buy­ing new copies of Pear­son­’s design. They’re in pret­ty short sup­ply. But any­one with a well-worn copy of the book might dis­cov­er what one Red­di­tor has also observed–that the cov­er design “becomes less cen­sored with wear.” Com­pare the “before” image above to the “after” image down below. Was this all part of Pear­son­’s long-range mas­ter plan? Or some­thing of a design flaw? We’ll prob­a­bly nev­er know. But if you’re look­ing for a book that gets bet­ter with age, then this is one to add to your list.

1984 after

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear the Very First Adap­ta­tion of George Orwell’s 1984 in a Radio Play Star­ring David Niv­en (1949)

Free Down­load: A Knit­ting Pat­tern for a Sweater Depict­ing an Icon­ic Cov­er of George Orwell’s 1984

George Orwell’s Har­row­ing Race to Fin­ish 1984 Before His Death

Aldous Hux­ley to George Orwell: My Hell­ish Vision of the Future is Bet­ter Than Yours (1949)

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.