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70 Experiments In Redesigning The First Page Of “Great Expectations” For Poetic Impact

GraphicDesign&, a design-centric British publishing house, has released an experimental new edition of Great Expectations. If you’re looking for a fresh way to read Charles Dickens’s classic story about the orphan boy Pip, you’ll either be delighted or tremendously disappointed. That’s because the paperback features the first page of the novel–and the first page only.

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GraphicDesign& founders Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright tapped 70 designers and typographers to lay out the opening of Great Expectations in 70 different ways. Why? In part to celebrate the bicentennial of Dickens’s birth. But also because the text practically begs for typographic experimentation: The novel starts with Pip searching for clues about his family from the letterforms inscribed on their tombstone. (“The shape of the letters on my father’s [grave] gave me the idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair.”)

Barnbrook renders the first page as a labyrinthine data visualization and Yu Kin Kang compresses it into a pair of giant QR codes. Alexander Boxill blocks out all the text (to represent that “square, stout, dark man”?). Experimental Jetset turns it into a silly game of Mad Libs.

The edition is the publishing house’s first book release and represents a larger goal to “connect literature and graphic design.” Buy Page 1: Great Expectations for £12.50 (about $20). It’s the kind of ______ that makes you want to ______.

[Images courtesy of GraphicDesign&}

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