Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton January 14, 2021

A multimodal analysis of Jane Eyre book covers

Contextualizing the acceptance and gradual rediscovery of a Western Classic in China

Jie Wu and Qinghong Wu
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies

Abstract

This paper applies visual grammar theory to make a multimodal discourse analysis of book covers of the different Chinese versions of Jane Eyre. It illustrates the relationship between the social environment and social changes in Chinese society and culture in relation to an increasing social acceptance of the novel in China. This research not only validates the applicability and practicability of visual grammar in analyzing book covers, but also helps to show an ideological change in Chinese readers and publishers over time from the 1930s to the 21st century. Indeed, the connotations of book covers of the different Chinese versions of Jane Eyre seem to be closely related to different historical and social contexts. They document and bear witness to, in their particular way, the tremendous changes in Chinese society from early last century on. They also show that Jane, the heroine of the novel, seemed to be re-discovered over and over again in China, depending on the main social features of different periods. She seems to have been portrayed as the gray presence, the feminist, the lover and protagonist, and finally the icon.


Corresponding author: Qinghong Wu, Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China, e-mail:

References

Feng, Qian. 2008. British heather in China – On the spread and influence of the Bronte sisters’ work in China. Beijing: Beijing Social Science Press.Search in Google Scholar

Kress, Gunther & Theo van Leeuwen. 2006. Reading images: The grammar of visual design, 2nd edn. London & New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis e-Library.Search in Google Scholar

Halliday, Michael A. K. 2008. An introduction to functional grammar. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.Search in Google Scholar

Wu, Qinghong & Huang Lu. 2011 The popularity of Jane Eyre in China. Literature Compass 8(8). 554–567. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-4113.2011.00816.x.Search in Google Scholar

Zhang, Wenjie. 2017. 简爱在中国的译介出版和接受研究. [The publication and acceptance of Jane Eyre in China]. View on Publishing 290. 57–59.Search in Google Scholar

Zhang, Xuexin, Yinglun Zhang, Shuren Yuan & Kelu Zheng. 1958. On Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Beijing: People’s Literature Press.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2021-01-14
Published in Print: 2021-02-23

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston