Over at The Millions — and in honor of Time’s Jonathan Franzen cover — I’ve compiled a full list of the magazine’s previous literary covers. You’ll find links to each cover and cover story (83, by my count), along with a short essay on the subject. The take-home point:
Just about every interaction between Time and a literary type has been characterized by a waffling between reaching out and selling out that, today, we’d describe as Franzean.
If you’re interested in more on this, I’d recommend Joe Moran’s fascinating (if also a little predictable) “The Author as a Brand Name: American Literary Figures and the Time Cover Story” and the third chapter of Evan Brier’s A Novel Marketplace: Mass Culture, the Book Trade, and Postwar American Fiction. (Brier’s whole book is pretty good.)
I managed to read most of the cover stories linked to in the article. My favorite is the one on Carl Sandburg and his massive Lincoln biography.