Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Anne Rice / Mary Renault

Classical art has been the backdrop of Anne Rice's book covers since the 90s. I think Chip Kidd started it off with the fourth vampire novel, The Tale of the Body Thief. The cover depicts Giambologna's scultpture The Rape of the Sabine Women. There's a spray-paint-like mist coming in from the left that is a spot metallic silver. Later on, paintings were incorporated into the covers, and I think Carol Carson did some later covers. I kinda like the idea of using paintings for these covers. For one, the genre - horror/fantasy usually gets the supermarket-check-out-line treatment. This keeps it classy. It adds a deep time dimension to the selling point - like, this book is RICH in history, yo, so check it. And it looks gorgeous on your shelf or framed on your wall.

Mary Renault's books, written in the 50s and 60s, were mostly about ancient Greece, Alexander the Great, and classical mythology (cover by Claire Williams).

Interestingly, both Rice and Renault write about homo/bi-sexuality. Renault was a lesbian in post-war England. She had a life-long partner and they actually left England to live in South Africa in a gay-friendly community in 1948:
"The Last of the Wine (1956) , the story of two young Athenians who study under Socrates and fight against Sparta. These books had male protagonists, as did all her later works that included homosexual themes; her sympathetic treatment of love between men would win Renault a wide gay readership." (Wikipedia)

Most of Anne Rice's vampires are bisexual:
"her characters' sexuality is fluid, often displaying homoerotic feelings towards each other. Rice said that bisexuality was what she was looking for in her characters; a love beyond gender especially with the Vampire Chronicles because the vampires were not of human society, therefore did not go by the expectations of that society." (Wikipedia)

Rice's son, the author Christopher Rice is openly gay. Rice converted back to Catholicism in 1996 after being an atheist. In 2004 she announced she would "write only for the lord" and give up writing about vampires. Still, she continues to be an advocate of gay rights. I'm going to venture a guess that Rice's husband's death in 2002 had something to do with this return to God and literary conversion. Similarly, it was the death of her six-year old daugher in 1972 that threw Rice into a deep depression that helped to generate her first hit novel, Interview with the Vampire, and the character of the forever-young girl Claudia.

1 comment:

Gould said...

The new one is a blow :