Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dame Darcy's Jane Eyre

I know, I'm odd: even though I wasn't sure what I thought of Dame Darcy's illustrations, I still bought her illustrated edition of Jane Eyre. Maybe it was because of the awesome, leather-look-alike book spine or maybe because her biography paragraph calls her a "self-proclaimed Neo-Victorian." But now that I've had a chance to pore over these pictures a couple more times, they've really grown on me.

I'm still not completely sure how to describe her style. You can get a small taste of it from the picture on the cover. It has a slight graphic novel informality to it, being composed much of lines and sharp angles. There's also something Gothic to it in the tone and texture of darkness paired with pretty Victorian things; this is, of course, fitting for the style and era of Jane Eyre. While most of the illustrations are in black and white, some of them are colored and printed on glossy pages. These are all full-page. But there are also some small images that sit around the text, making it all more immersive. The small pictures of Mrs. Rochester, those were perfect. Oh, and the eye on page 83.

You know what I like about these illustrations? They're dark and conflicted and passionate and even slightly other-worldly. And that's what I like about Jane Eyre; it isn't frilly or constrained, and it's best moments are all about powerful outbursts of emotion that take on a life of their own. I think Dame Darcy found a way to simultaneously emphasize the tone of the book, show the historical side of the story, and bring a modern edge to it all. I flipped through the book page by page to look at all of the pictures in order, and it was like reliving the whole book; that means these illustrations are successful companions to the story.

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