Orwell's 1984 as a pulp novel

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35 Responses to “Orwell's 1984 as a pulp novel”

  1. Joe Max says:

    I remember this cover – I saw it in my junior high school library way back in 1970! There was a rack that carried some paperback books, and it was one of them. Who knows how they came by it, probably a donation from a parent.

    I remember it because my young teenage self was indeed [cough] stimulated by the sultry image of Julia, all wasp-waisted and cleavaged, sporting her anti-sex league button and giving sly shoulder sex to Winston under the eyes of the Big Brother poster.

    Who knew that Outer Party overalls were all sleeveless?

    Sadly, the book had already been subjected to one of those treatments that seals the book cover in plastic for durability (you still see that done in libraries today), so the collector’s item value was ruined!

    Thanks for the flashback!

  2. buddy66 says:

    Some of my friends used to collect these lurid covers as they were issued. There was no American quality paperback activity until the mid-50s; so when a reprint was listed, the publisher geeks went crazy with the cover art. Remember, ALL paperbacks were suspect back then and most were considered trashy. ‘Reading a paperback’ is a neutral statement today, but fifty years ago it was derogatory. My favorite was ‘The Turn of The Screw,’ where a young woman in a diaphonous nightgown is holding a lit candle aloft and leading a young man up a flight of darkened stairs. I leave it to your imagination what the cover art looked like for ‘Black Beauty.’

    Incidentally, #10, I doubt the authenticity of the cover for ‘Animal Farm’ on Slate’s slideshow. I think it’s a parody somebody pawned off as a 50′s example; especially since the publisher is listed as Vintage, a quality pb house.

  3. ThinkPositive says:

    “Shoulder sex”?

  4. rsheslin says:

    Buddy @#22 — The Slate pulp covers are the results of commissioned redesign, not vintage. (Associated article here.)

  5. Avram says:

    I’ve seen that back-cover copy (“Which One Will YOU Be?”) before, but the front cover illo is new to me. I love it, especially Julia’s navel-seeking neckline.

    Orwell hated Stalin and Communism (but not socialism, to which he remained committed) ever since his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. Nineteen Eighty-Four, however, is more complex in its inspirations than a simple anti-Stalinist tract. Orwell was also inspired by what he saw of politically-motivated propaganda (on all sides, including the ones he supported), and by Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We and James Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution.

  6. chaircrusher says:

    This is the edition of the book I first read. It was in my mom’s old books that I started plundering when I was 11 or 12, and it might have been my dad’s — I was born in 1957 and he died in 1960 … thanks for the blast from the past.

    Also in that pile — Nabakov’s “Lolita”, and a first paperback edition of “Stranger In a Strange Land,” which was definitely my dad’s.

    My kids swiped all my Thelonius Monk Vinyl but left my shelf full of PK Dick alone.

  7. Paula Wirth says:

    Pulp covers of classics are in no way unusual. I have tons of them on my flickr stream. Although I do tend to find the covers WAY more exciting than the actual contents. For instance, this D.H. Lawrence cover is pretty darn racy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/inkvision/63409873/

    Here’s another edition of the same 1984 pulp, with a slightly different layout:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/inkvision/76466336/in/set-919339/

  8. ZombieBabyDiego says:

    What’s the old legend about Orwell’s original preface being scrapped from everything after the first edition printing?

    It was assumed that Orwell’s book was an anti-communist screed, and the following preface was reworked to reflect this replacement theme, when the actual book is much broader in scope? I can’t remember exactly what it was.

    Has anyone heard this same story? I’m not sure where to look to confirm or deny it.

  9. Jim Dandy says:

    #8 posted by ZombieBabyDiego , June 26, 2008 7:56 AM:

    And Animal Farm was less an examination of totalitarian systems than commentary on literary and press censorship in post WWI England.

    You mean “1984″, right? (Although that’d still be pretty far-fetched.) As he wrote about AF to his publisher:

    …when the windmill is blown up, I wrote, “all the animals including Napoleon flung themselves on their faces.” I would like to alter it to ‘all the animals except Napoleon.” If that has been printed it’s not worth bothering about, but I just thought the alteration would be fair to J.S. (Joseph Stalin), as he did stay in Moscow during the German advance.

  10. airship says:

    Wow! That cover makes me love Big Brother even MORE!!!

  11. Halloween Jack says:

    I can just imagine this version ending with Winston, having beaten O’Brien and the guards in Room 101, forcing Big Brother at gunpoint to get on the telescreen and tell the people the truth, damnit. And then escaping with Julia to Goldstein’s secret Antarctic Base of Freedom.

  12. Darth Obvious says:

    Ahhhh memories, I got a copy of this edition at a used bookstore for 10 cents in 1966. I had read the hardcover version, but I could not pass up such a wonderful cover. I swear it had nothing to do with the fact the woman looked like a spooky poetess/waitress working at a coffeehouse I hung out at that time.

  13. Anonymous says:

    They also made a Catcher in the Rye Pulpy version.
    http://www.antiqbook.com/boox/hangfi/011432.shtml

  14. buddy66 says:

    #23 rsheslin:

    Ah-ha. That’s why the girl looks like she was drawn by Trina Robbins—she probably was.

  15. Jonathan Badger says:

    It was assumed that Orwell’s book was an anti-communist screed, and the following preface was reworked to reflect this replacement theme, when the actual book is much broader in scope?

    I don’t recall anything about Orwell’s own introduction, but my 1984-ish edition of 1984 had an introduction by somebody stressing that Orwell was talking about all totalitarian states, not just the Soviet Union. It wasn’t that convincing though. Big Brother is obviously Joseph Stalin, and Goldstein Trotsky. You can’t really line up parallels with, say, Nazi Germany, without stretching. Orwell was a socialist, but he had a particular hatred of the Soviet Union and Stalin.

  16. Tina B says:

    Um. that’s the copy I read when I was in school.

  17. Stefan Jones says:

    #17: “Wow, this adventure sucks! Your character always gets eaten by rats or shot in the back of the head.”

  18. ZombieBabyDiego says:

    I don’t recall anything about Orwell’s own introduction, but my 1984-ish edition of 1984 had an introduction by somebody stressing that Orwell was talking about all totalitarian states, not just the Soviet Union.

    Actually – I retract that first statement. It wasn’t 1984, it was actually Animal Farm. And Animal Farm was less an examination of totalitarian systems than commentary on literary and press censorship in post WWI England.

  19. sachablow says:

    1984 in vietnamese with a French language preface:

    http://www.underbahn.net/0977422453.html

    Wild!

  20. Joel Schlosberg says:

    There was a New York Times article from 1995 by Julie Lasky that discussed this cover:

    And so it was that dozens of classic novels appeared in packages that were cartoonish, sordid or merely absurd. George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-four” assumed its paperback life in 1950 as a tale of “Forbidden Love … Fear … Betrayal.”…. Borrowing a trick from mystery novels (in 1950, 26 percent of all paperbacks published were mysteries), Alan Harmon, the artist of “Nineteen Eighty-four,” scattered details of the narrative across the cover like clues. There’s Big Brother and the Ministry of Truth, the red sashes of the Anti-Sex League, anomie, “forbidden love,” “fear,” etc. And as with all good mysteries, there’s a red herring. What with the triceps and leers of these characters, the cherry lipstick and mascara, the proletarian, neutering clothes refashioned as catsuits unzipped to the waist, readers might be surprised that Winston Smith and Julia were destined not for a rumble but for a brainwashing.

  21. Takuan says:

    there’s a contest; post first edition book art with the authors and titles removed and see who can recognize them first.

  22. Vanwall says:

    Slate had a little series of lurid covers along this line:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2142392/slideshow/2142443/fs/0//entry/2142437/

    The “Alice in Wonderland” is awesome.

  23. Evil Jim says:

    Neat. That’s the book cover glued to the wall of the men’s room as wall paper at my local book store, along with “Trail of Cthulhu” & hundreds of others.

  24. tsiatko says:

    The couple on the cover were actually the artist and his wife. I knew their daughter.

  25. otherthings says:

    Wow, I have that exact same edition! Like CHAIRCRUSHER above, I’ve got a tall stack of great sci-fi handed down from tha moms. Can’t wait ’til my daughter’s old enough to read this stuff!

  26. BizarroPippy says:

    Do it to Julia!
    which one will you be?
    I <3 big brother

  27. VagabondAstronomer says:

    I remember this cover. One of my best friends had this edition, mid-1970′s (reckon I was 12). In fact, it was that edition that made me aware of the book at all…

  28. historyman68 says:

    Oy. We read Animal Farm in Junior High and they tried to teach it as an analogue to Nazi Germany rather than the Soviet Union. The parallels did not line up, but that didn’t stop them from trying.

  29. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Bender @11:

    Reminds me of Tom Ewells occupation in The Seven Year Itch. He worked for a pulp publisher and sexied up Little Women for example.

    When you do it to the text as well as the package, the term is “impurgation.”

    They still do this on a more subtle level.

    Only insofar as they do it to every book that gets published.

    Anonymous @25, that’s not a pulpified reissue; it’s the original paperback edition, with a James Avati cover.

  30. Antiglobalism says:

    The constant Orwell references are getting a bit tiresome at this point — yeth, we’re living in a totalitarian society; so? Socrates warned us about democracy thousands of years ago, but humanity’s too stupid to listen.

  31. Antinous says:

    The constant Orwell references are getting a bit tiresome at this point

    What are you on about? It’s a post about a vintage book cover. Did you just try to hijack the thread to your political agenda? What on earth are you on about?

  32. MaximusNYC says:

    The way the characters are dressed isn’t that true to the novel. But one interestingly accurate detail is the white step-pyramid building in the background, labeled IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. This is obviously the Ministry of Truth, where Winston works — it’s shown exactly as described in the book.

  33. tonyc13 says:

    This reminds me of the Little Women: Confessions of a Girls Dormitory from the Billy Wilder classic The Seven Year Itch.

  34. Santos says:

    Had this, this is somewhere in my folk’s home still.

  35. subterrene says:

    The back copy reads like a “Choose Your Own Adventure!” version of 1984. LOL.

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