Monday, May 10, 2010

The Razor's Edge

I've mentioned here before that W. Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge is my favorite book; I've read it a few dozen times and it never ceases to enthrall me.

I like it so much, in fact, that I created a whole blog devoted to my collection of Razor's Edge editions (called Principles of Psychology), and I've even tried my hand at designing a new cover for the book.

The first time I tried it, I thought I did okay but in retrospect I think I was a little heavy-handed with the whole "man on a spiritual journey" motif, so I had it in the back of my mind to try it again, the result of which you see above.

The picture is from the collection of my late, Great Uncle Fred (1901-1997), who I've also mentioned here before and whose stories and photos of his adventures thrilled me as a child.

When going through some old photos my parents had down in their basement, I saw this one, and it immediately struck me as the perfect image for The Razor's Edge. Not only does it feature the kind of "man looking into the horizon"-type image that's perfect to represent the story, but the photo itself (which I had to crop a lot here, since its horizontal) is simply a beautifully composed image--I love the heavy darks at the top and bottom, with the strong white of the water in the middle. Uncle Fred was a damn good photographer. (An aside: none of us are sure, but that might even be my Dad in the pic!)

I saw no need to use any of my illustrations in this cover, preferring it to be a simple graphic design piece. I had a lot of fun figuring out what font to use, and where to put Maugham's name, the title, and the book's epigram ("The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to salvation is hard").

I think with this version I hit a nice balance between making the book look like the enduring classic it is, but not making it look like a museum piece. I find The Razor's Edge just as relevant today as it (presumably) was when it debuted in 1944. The fact that its still in print to this day I think proves that.

So, I really like this new cover I worked up, but who knows? I might feel the need to create another one, just like I'm always compelled to re-read the book...

1 comment:

bish8 said...

Okay, so now I'm going to have to check out your Razor's Edge blog as I always cite it as the book that influenced me the most growing up. Between Razor's Edge and Walden Pond, it's no wonder I turned out odd...