Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cover Discoveries

The Book Bench does a weekly contest in which you have to identify four books based only on a small detail from their covers.

This week the theme was books that might show up in women's studies courses. One of the books was Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Look closely at the cover, though, in the contest solution.

It has been defaced. It reads: To the Shighthouse. Or, "to the shitehouse," as they would spell it in Ireland.

I wonder who pulled this little prank?

It reminds me of something that happened at the yearly Open House we have at the high school where I teach. For the English Department's table in the library, we set out all the books we teach, in order of class year. We then can use the books to talk prospective parents through our curriculum.

Sometimes we pull the display books from a shelf in our office where we keep books that we've found abandoned in the halls or classrooms over the years.

One year, I had been working Open House for about an hour or so. It was the middle of the afternoon, and many parents had been by the English Dept. table. As I talked yet another family through the books, beginning with the ones we teach to freshmen, I noticed that the copy of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that I was pointing to had been defaced. It read, boldly: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn's PENIS.

Evidently we'd taken the book from the shelf of extra books, and the student who'd abandoned his copy of Huck had also added to its title, perhaps thinking wishfully about the contents of the novel.

One might expect such shenanigans at an all-boys school. But it's funny to see the same thing happen at one of the blogs of an august institution such as the New Yorker.


As of 3:50 today, they've replaced the shitehouse cover with a non-defaced one.


Anonymous said...

I think the defaced book on our department table had somehow turned the word "Finn" into "Penis" in the same way that someone turned "Lighthouse" into "Shighthouse." The Adventures of Huckleberry's Penis--or was it "Pennis," as I saw the word spelled recently in a bit of graffito?

framiko said...

As I recall it was added on to the title, with the word "penis" scrawled alongside. I worked at the Arch with a guy named Harry Ennis, though, and somebody altered his nametag so that it read "Harry Pennis."