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Cover image is generally acknowledged to be a most decisive element, which can effectively determine the sale of a book. As a kind of representation or focus of the book's content, a fine book cover should be able to attract readers' attention immediately. Therefore an excellent design of book cover will be vital, particularly when the book cover can successfully reflect which genre this book belongs to. For instance, a very well-designed cover for an adventure story or science fiction will elevate the value of the book itself according to some book collectors. And for books of series, their covers normally are successive, as their ‘family resemblance' is highlighted here for readers, such as the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul' and ‘Dummies' series. But for H. Haggard, he probably would not have anticipated that there would be a huge variety of book cover images for his master piece - King Solomon's Mines, as it is a remedy lay in art, or at least in what might be thought of as a kind of critical image. And in rethinking the cover image as an individual story - not merely book cover image as representing the content of the book but cover image as putting into practice a new relation of and to a story. It is not clear that if Haggard participated in each cover image's design for his King Solomon's Mines, however owing to the existing various versions of cover images for a same book, one might argue that Haggard seems to believe that cover image potentially has real social and political force. In this essay, I am going to examine the relationship between his work and its different cover images by different publishers.
Even though the cover images for King Solomon's Mines differ greatly, they are eclectic, bringing together, for instance, both the traditional western heroic prints and the evolutional cover in which the blacks are focused. The culture of the early colonialism period and the 1880s with culture at the end of the nineteenth century are presented in the cover images for King Solomon's Mines. However in specific way that those economic, artistic and historical elements of difference can be brought together, the implicit claims for the cover images of King Solomon's Mines are fairly big; and these images, they seem, will open up a new life (or a new ‘sensibility) in the present, which includes new ‘seeds' for the future. If nothing else, the truly global reach of popularity attained by R. Haggard may be enough reason. The central elements of this chapter are the different cover images and emphasis on surface relations (sometimes reductively described as a mere flatness) and the connections made by Haggard and others between the post colonialism era and contemporary colonialism period - as seen, for example, in the Penguin Classics cover, as the white man appears as a leader while the other black men carrying goods.
At the first glimpse of the Penguin Classics' cover, the sense of modernity is given immediately, because it reflects the history of colonialism for the time being. Arguably, within modernity, if there is anything that holds things together at all, it is history. History provides the foundations of association between a range of knowledge forms (from biology to economics to linguistics) in the form of analogies organized in a temporal series. In contrast to the layering of differences that the cover images of King Solomon's Mines is based on, the ground of modern history is accordingly more typically thought of as generally homogenous, despite some unevenness. If we examine the role of the white man and the black men, it is quite obvious that the white man seems like supervising the black labours. That is exactly a glance of history of colonialism. History therefore holds out the promise of a view of a kind of totality - a view of a whole. But at the same time, the argument usually goes, modern history is self-referential: ultimately, we can really fully see and know only ourselves, and this view is immanent, without a transcendent position - and so we end up alienated from any view of a complete whole. More simply put, there is no overarching view of history possible. The world itself, as a horizon, therefore cannot become a theme, we cannot thematize the world as a whole. In a way, the same thing can be said of modernity's emphasis on the present, as a time divorced from larger, but differential, narratives of history. The present is, in a sense, our only real origin of experience. So even if history provides a common ground of modernity, already there is an inherent problem of lack of limits, or horizons, that one might then see beyond.
Penguin Classics cover
Since the adventure scenarios are set in Africa, it is inevitably that the mysterious African sights and the black people ought to be the main theme, at least on the cover image. Take the Penguin Pop Classics cover image as example, the typical African waterfall and jungle emerge straightforward. Possibly the editor of this version reckons that the mysteriousness and primitiveness will be attractive enough to catch the reader's eyes, however in contrast to the other cover images, it appears, at least to me personally, to be less attractive than the other images, even though it gives the sense of Africa, and it can be attributed to the lack of adventure elements. Of course one might argue, that the African waterfall and jungle are where the King Solomon's mines hidden, it is still not characteristic enough. The construct of modern western societies, too, can be brought back to the context of the late 19th century and the idea of the capitalism period as an ending or culmination of the western colonialism policies. Those policies, which reached their fulfilment in the late 19th century, were based on a remarkably successful emphasis on consumer capitalism as the basis of social order and were premised on a withdrawal not only from militarism but, in a sense, from the wider world in general (and so they, too, formed a kind of inward turn). The notion of a return of history under these conditions therefore becomes a loaded idea, with fairly large possible implications as to what a return to history might mean. Likewise, the Barnes and Noble cover image merely emphasize the unusual African costumes, which may trigger the western people's curiosity. Whereas this kind of simpleness fails to provide the strong and attractive visual impact.Penguin Pop Classics Barnes and Noble cover
Interestingly enough, and in some contrast to the other cover images from different versions, it is also out of this global world that a call for a return to traditional concept springs up in the book cover image. The version of returning from a global perspective (simply the way how people in the world view Africa) to a specifically western traditional origin is a common theme for King Solomon's Mines' cover images. Penguin Longman's version is a very good example, as it depicts the rebellious scenario when Allan Quatermain and Sir Henry helped Ignosi to overthrow King Twala. It should have been the African civil war, which means the African people are supposed to be the leader, yet on Penguin Longman's cover image, it appears that Allan Quatermain is leading them to fight. Maybe the edition feels the roles of white men need reinforcing even in the cover image, making it equally important to their roles in the book. So unlike the Penguin Pop Classics' normal and typical African image, which really is a world without huge difference - here there is a real claim to the possibility of true difference, and even difference of concept of value in particular. But then one must still wonder, what, if anything, is very fresh about this sort of relation to a traditional western role? What limits could it possibly be opening up? This is not the first time, after all, that the people have located the origin of the white men's roles and identities in the colonialism period. For the Africans, nineteenth century Africa, which is to also say post colonialism Africa, has in some essential way always already deconstructed modernist western formations of meaning and man. In other words, Africa in a sense has always already stood outside the modern. The trouble with this model of Africa's incommensurability with the modern is that it risks a sort of transcendent cultural exceptionalism. Africa in general, therefore, and the post colonial Africa in particular, really cannot speak to the concrete conditions of the current global capitalism. As a result, is the cover image similarly ending up with a transcendent nationalism, by seeing in early modern Africa the origins of something that is somehow external to the colonialism? What is this cover image relation to post colonialism Africa? Even though the basis or foundational relations of a cover image is pretty pictorial, or not really historical, it is in terms of pictorial and historical relations that I assume it might be the most straightforward to get a clearer sense of what is at stake.Penguin Longman cover
We may all aware that in Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, more or less the attitude of colonialism is expressed throughout the book, particularly in the relationship between white characters and black characters and the black people's barbarian behaviours. However his way of portraying black people as hero (such as Ignosi) and black woman as heroine (like Foulata) is absolutely barely seen at that time. The Headline Review Classic cover kind of does reflect the author's ideas. As we can see Gagool the hag, the typical bad character in the story and the justice white characters, furthermore the black woman, Foulata is also included in the image. Why is Foulata important? Because she is almost the key character in the last few chapters, who saves Allan Quatermain and Sir Henry's life, moreover, she has kind of unusual interracial romance with Captain Good, the English man. Here the cover image does great job of representing the story. When we carefully examine each character's face, you should be able to tell that Foulata's facial expression is the most distinctive. It is a mixture of anxiety, sense of insecurity and uncertain. Just like the story unfolds, at the end Foulata saves the good characters but unfortunately dies in the arms of Captain Good, due to her brave fight against the hag Gagool. It is a pity that a cover image cannot speak more, otherwise it would be better if Haggard's respect for the African culture is also involved.
Headline Review Classics cover
The comic cover version of King Solomon's Mines is not very outstanding. Consequently the idea of ‘comic' plays off the material, technological and real characteristics that are tied to realistic as opposed to analog media. This has to do in part with differing relations to an origin, but can more generally be thought of as just differing relations to the world. This kind of analog medium, for example a movie-alike photo will automatically reproduce the optical wavelengths of light to which it is exposed, for example, the Broadview Press cover. In terms of the content of both covers, they both have elephant, however elephant in different scenario plays different roles: in comic version, it seems that the white man is threatening by the elephant, while in the Broadview Press version, the elephant appears as a prey for the white man hunter and his black servant. The former is relatively free, and it can be exaggerated as long as it does not go beyond the limit, whereas the latter retains a stability of form and scale, which exists in a mimetic relation therefore anchors a sort of identity that is stable, unitary, and that privileges the origin as the place of truth, complexity and authenticity (the white man is the key figure, and the black man is only his servant). There is also a kind of depth reproduction implied as well, similar to the idea of the comic subject, in which actual identity, in all its complexity, lies at the interior, and this interior self determines the more limited outward expressions that one sees the story inside the book.
Comic version cover
Broadview Press cover
In conclusion, in the book cover image world, though, precisely because they are only the surface of the book, there is no single point of depth by which to locate a unitary subject. Various cover images instead allows for the layering of different surfaces, and each surface can be thought of as its own production of identity, with its own relation to an origin, here namely the origin is King Solomon's Mines, the story, nevertheless in a way, each layer can be an origin sometimes. Yet oddly there are ways in which the cover images turn to the representation of the post colonialism period. To some extent the world, as horizon, does become a theme, as does history as a means of imaging the world. To some extent the cover images does, in other words, elicit a retheorization of possibilities in the present. More simply and concretely, these cover images shows us how the colonialism period was a truly different era - a kind of limit to our own, even while it can also be very much part of the definition of that time, i.e. the late 19th century. In a more positive reading, those selected cover images may thus bring out new ways of delimiting beyond the seemingly limitless horizons of modern life and modern history.