Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Nobel Prize Pulp

Some souvenirs from the days before paperback publishing became entirely respectable.

The above cover may be the only time the French novelist Roger Martin du Gard, probably best known in the US (if at all) for his long friendship with Gide, was ever compared to Grace Metalious. I don't know what marketing genius back in 1955 thought you could sell minor Martin du Gard in American drugstores, but probably the cover was the real selling point. This edition did go through at least two printings, so maybe they were onto something after all.

I went through an intense Martin du Gard phase in my youth and actually looked all over for The Postman, which at the time was out of print. I finally tracked down a copy in French (the original title is Vieille France) and worked my way through it, dictionary in hand, which if nothing else says something for my attention span back then. I only vaguely remember it now; I suspect it was actually quite tame. I bought the copy shown above much later for old time's sake.

I've never read either of the two Faulkners shown here. I love the quotation at the top of the back cover of Pylon, which makes you think the book is about giant rats or something along those lines. The Signet edition is from 1951. The blonde man on the cover looks a little like Paul Bowles, and the man slouching in the chair has Robert Mitchum eyes. Probably a coincidence.

The 1947 edition of Sanctuary below is relatively dignified -- it is a Penguin after all.

All of the above imprints -- Berkley, Signet, and Penguin -- are now part of the same corporation.

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