Kafka and other classics get a slick redesign to make them seem less gloomy

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Truth: we all judge books by their covers — metaphorically and in real life. And, perhaps not too surprisingly, those covers (we're talking about books now) can fundamentally change how an author is viewed. 

The books of the not terribly chipper Franz Kafka have all been given a slick redesign. The covers, by Peter Mendelsund, have already received great reviews, but probably not from who you expect. Teenagers, it seems, have been the most vocally enthusiastic, as they can now sit in their English classes with Mendelsund's colorful rendition of The Trial in their hands without feeling an impending sense of doom. (At least until they read it.)  

The Kafka project is just the latest in Mendelsund's campaign to revamp the look of old titles (he's also re-designed classics by Nabokov, Foucault, and Tolstoy) choosing this time around to model his Kafka series off non-representational artists like Alvin Lustig, the legendary book-cover artist who designed Kafka's 1946 Amerika. Unlike those of past decades, when cockroach-laden imagery was the norm for Kafka's dystopic tales, the new designs are minimalist, colorful, and almost fun. 

 "I just find him funny," said Mendelsund on the author. "He's not George Orwell."  It's Mendelsund's hope that the new designs will steer people more towards Kafka's sense of humor rather than his gloomy existentialism. As far as I'm concerned, he's succeeded. That is, until I reach the last page of any of Kafka's books, where the inevitable gloom sets in. But oh, wait — there's the cover again! I feel much better.