June 26th, 2008


1984 pulp book covers from 1954 (updated 4x)

Back in May, Colleen Mondor put out a modest proposal for bloggers to write about their favorite political books (fiction or non-) during the month of August. (I previously noted this here.) I will happily be bloviating about George Orwell's 1984, as it happens to be one of my all-time favorite books (and a huge influence on my own fiction, and very specifically on my n*vel-in-progress). In the run-up to that post, when I have time, I've been poking about teh internets for inspiration.

And quite by accident, the other day, I discovered the following front and back book covers for 1984 on Amazon, posted by David Rolfe of Pasadena, CA:

They are from the 1954 Signet (#S798) paperback edition, and are quite unlike the covers for any other editions that I've seen for Orwell's most well-known novel, which tend toward minimalism, with the numerical title almost always taking up the majority of the space. Part of me loves the lurid pulpish nature of these covers, and I'd love to see a modern revisioning of them, along the lines of what Night Shade and Jon Foster recently did for Jon Courtenay Grimwood's 9Tail Fox (although I still love the groovy new Penguin covers by Shepard Fairey). (Wow, I said "love," like, three times in the last sentence.)

(David Rolfe, who originally posted the covers (thanks, David!) writes: "Note the button on the girl's shirt: 'AntiSex League.' But does she practice what she preaches?" Indeed.)

In case you can't read the over-the-top text on the back cover (which manages to not mention Winston Smith, Julia, O'Brien, Room 101, Ingsoc, or Oceania), here's what it says:

Which One Will YOU Be In the Year 1984?

There won't be much choice, of course, if this book's predictions turn out to be true. But you'll probably become one of the following four types:

Proletarian--Considered inferior and kept in total ignorance, you'll be fed lies from the Ministry of Truth, eliminated upon signs of promse of ability!

Police Guard--Chosen for lack of intelligence but superior brawn, you'll be suspicious of everyone and be ready to give your life for Big Brother, the leader you've never even seen!

Party Member: Male--Face-less, mind-less, a flesh-and-blood robot with a push-button brain, you're denied love by law, taught hate by the flick of a switch!

Party Member: Female--A member of the Anti-Sex League from birth, your duty will be to smother all human emotion, and your children might not be your husband's!

Unbelievable? You'll feel differently after you've read this best-selling book of forbidden love and terror in a world many of us may live to see!

England Prevails.

Update 1: Holy shit! This entry got Boing-Boinged!

Update 2: Holy shit! This entry also got Boortzed! (Thanks, Ben!)

Update 3: Holy shit! This entry also got Reddited! (Thanks, anonymous stranger!)

Update 4: Due to the massive attention this entry has received, I am turning off anonymous commenting. Too many people showing up without identifying themselves, and though it has for the most part been civil and on the topic, there have been a few trolls who have committed insults and ad-hominem attacks, for absolutely no reason; these comments were deleted and IP addresses logged.

So, if you would like to comment, you'll need a LJ account (they're free, after all), but those who continue to display acts of dickery will be banned. This is my house, and I don't take that kind of shit from anyone.