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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.



( 41 circumlocutions — Add to the Intelligent Discourse )
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Jun. 26th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
When Waiting for Godot premiered in Miami Beach, the advertising copy described it, unironically, as 'the laff riot of two continents'.

Ah, advertising.
Jun. 26th, 2008 03:24 am (UTC)
Wow. Maybe the copy writer was from a parallel universe or something.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jun. 26th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jlundberg - Jun. 27th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - slithytove - Jun. 27th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jlundberg - Jun. 27th, 2008 03:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Lesser Humans... completely ignore the Fact that you are living 1984 - (Anonymous) - Jun. 26th, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 26th, 2008 04:56 am (UTC)
That's awesome.
Jun. 26th, 2008 06:07 am (UTC)
Re: pulperiffic
Isn't it, though? Even though it's wildly inaccurate, there's still something compelling about it.
Jun. 26th, 2008 09:15 am (UTC)
Jun. 26th, 2008 11:32 am (UTC)
I know! I couldn't believe I found it.
Jun. 26th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
That plunging cleavage is perfect when you're part of the anti-sex league. Ah, the 1950s faces, too.

Edit: Hmmm, I guess cleavage is what she's showing; it's the neckline that plunges. And plunges and plunges!

Edited at 2008-06-26 11:24 am (UTC)
Jun. 26th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
"Join the Anti-Sex League, and with your displays of ample cleavage, plunging necklines, inch-long eyelashes, and come-hither stares, we can work together to make men forget all about sex!"

And wow, how thin is her waist supposed to be?

Yeah, I guess a plunging cleavage would be something quite different than a plunging neckline.
something quite different - asakiyume - Jun. 26th, 2008 11:43 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: something quite different - jlundberg - Jun. 26th, 2008 12:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 26th, 2008 11:46 am (UTC)
And how about that goonish Big Brother in the upper right?! I always imagined more of a military dictator face, sort of your Peron or your Mussolini.
Jun. 26th, 2008 12:44 pm (UTC)
Orwell's inspiration for the face of Big Brother was supposedly Stalin, and I always saw BB this way. The actor that they used in the film version with John Hurt was also very Stalinesque.
Jun. 26th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
That's the american cover I think, which explains the randomness.

1st thing I noticed: Is it just me or does it look like the blonde in the background is nuzzling the other girls neck?

Second thing I noticed: As you've mentioned, BB looks a bit off. I always imagined him like Lord Kitchener from the British propaganda posters, which would probably make sense that he described BB like that as he worked in the BBC at the time and made it known he disliked all the propaganda it was spouting out. But yeah, Stalin's also a solid theory.

And the way women were drawn in the 1950's makes me chuckle.
Jun. 27th, 2008 03:35 am (UTC)
Kitchener also works. His mustache was even more impressive than Stalin's.

Is it just me or does it look like the blonde in the background is nuzzling the other girls neck?

It does indeed. Or maybe she's just bending down to look at something, but there does seem to be nuzzlage being committed. ;)
Jun. 26th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
You've got another high-profile link!
Congratulations, this entry is linked to from Nealz Nuse, Neal Boortz' daily radio show notes read by (allegedly) half a million readers (many of them other talkshow hosts):

(my livejournal blog is dead old and moldy. My current blog is http://ben-bradley.blogspot.com)
Jun. 27th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
Re: You've got another high-profile link!
Wow, cool! Thanks for letting me know, Ben!
Jun. 26th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
What about...?
The, what I assume to be, police guard member? He has a lot of plunging of his own going on.
Jun. 27th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
Re: What about...?
LOL! Hey, that's true. Almost looks like BDSM fashion, that maybe his response to Big Brother is, "Yes, mistress."
Jun. 26th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC)
To be fair it looks like the chap to the left demonstrates quite the plunging neckline as well. Albeit in a fashion which displays musculature rather than cleavage...
Jun. 27th, 2008 03:40 am (UTC)
"Look at my manly masculine police pecs!"
Jun. 26th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
have you read the book?
In the book Julia is described as dark haired, blue uniform with the red sash that shows she has renounced sexual intercourse - and a member of the anti-sex league.

Its a pulp novel cover but its not a bad reading of the main characters...

Jun. 27th, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
Re: have you read the book?
Yes, of course I have read the book. How could it be one of my all-time favorites if I haven't read it?

Indeed, Julia is in the book as you describe. However, the interpretation of her on the cover art here neglects the entire mission of the Junior Anti-Sex-League, which is sexual repression. The Party wants to stomp out sexual attraction or responses of any kind, even going so far as to try to extinguish the orgasm through neurological experimentation. Not by tarting up your female members.
Jun. 26th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
wow, i have a similar edition from 1958. it uses the same painting but the rest of the layout is simplified somewhat. also, it cost 50c unlike the one pictured here at 35.
Jun. 26th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
Ah, memories
In fact, that was the edition my Dad had on the shelf, and the lurid copy and sexxxy cover are exactly what convinced me to pick the book up! Well, that and I'd heard somewhere that a dude got his head stuck in a rat-cage, which I thought was totally rad (this was the '80s, that was how we talked). So---count that as one victory for plunging necklines in the service of literature!
Jun. 27th, 2008 03:53 am (UTC)
Re: Ah, memories
Hey, whatever got you to read the book... :)
Jun. 26th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
and you got reddit 'ed too
and you got reddit 'ed too
Jun. 27th, 2008 03:53 am (UTC)
Re: and you got reddit 'ed too
Wow, cool! Thanks for letting me know!
Jun. 26th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
I own this edition, picked it up for a quarter at a flea market about 25 years ago. Oddly, I'd never read it before, and the copy was eminently readable. Still is, if one is careful.

For the record, Andrew, it's a paperback, so that's not a dust jacket.

Nit well-picked, I'll bid adieu.

Chris in Virginia
Jun. 27th, 2008 03:56 am (UTC)
Re: 1984
Hi, Chris in Virginia. That edition's probably pretty valuable by this point, so I'd hang on to it.

Who's Andrew? My name's Jason. And yes, I know it's a paperback, and actually mention that above in my description of the book.
Jun. 27th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)
1984: c.1960 and c.2008
I've read that before! My 21st printing Signet paperback from 1960 (cover price $0.50)has the same back cover copy, but the pulp cover isn't so luridly sexual (shows a couple fleeing a giant ripped banner of Big Brother amid modern architecture against a dark horizon).

Read it in 8th or 9th grade, with me throwing the book across the room in agony at the ending.

Just finished Emma Larkin's Finding George Orwell in Burma. The people there simply call him "the prophet." Everyone should read her book after reading 1984 and Animal Farm.
Jun. 27th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)
Re: 1984: c.1960 and c.2008
I read the book in 11th grade. Didn't throw it across the room, but the ending also left me in agony; it's one of the most heartbreaking and devastating endings I may have ever read in literature.

Glad to hear that George Orwell in Burma is a good one; I've been interested in picking it up, but haven't yet. Thanks for the rec!
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