Why do we hate illustrations in novels? Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, H.G. Wells, and Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t!

In ye olden times, many works of fiction for adults were illustrated. Obviously, this is not the case today, outside of the children’s books. Things change over time, I’m fine with that, but it annoys me that we push today’s literary values on yesterday’s works! If you go into your local bookstore today to buy some bangin’ classic literature from the 19th Century, there’s about a zero percent chance that the current edition will include illustrations, even if the original version did. Rageous! Should we not at least preserve literary works in their original states?!

the original A Christmas Carol, with illustrations!

an illustration from the original A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

from one of the original Sherlock Holmes shorts

from the original War of the Worlds

On a related note, another thing that bothers me is when a classic children’s book is rereleased with new illustrations. If the new illustrator has an awesome style and does something totally different from the original illustrator, I’m not that bothered. Unfortunately, what usually happens is the new illustrator is just lame and their selection is just inexplicable. I’m not gonna include any examples, though, el oh el.


2 responses to “Why do we hate illustrations in novels? Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, H.G. Wells, and Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t!

  1. Grrrrr… haven’t we talked about this “bangin'” nonsense?

    Other than that, I agree. A book without pictures is like…. a bunch of words on a page. (Snooze fest!)

  2. The presumption that the modern adult reader doesn’t want pictures is something that suits some publishers who don’t want to pay for artwork!
    As a book illustrator I’m obviously biased in favour of the illustrated book, but simply as a book reader, though I love the merits of a written word, given the choice I will go for an illustrated edition every time. In fact I have several editions of the same books , Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayaam, Edgar Allen Poe -Tales of Mystery and Imagination simply for the different illustrations to the same tale.

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