Get Lost in This Collection of Pulp Covers of Classic Works of Literature

Tom Simpson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Tom Simpson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

You're probably familiar with the term "pulp fiction," referring to books printed on cheap "pulp" paper with covers featuring sexy illustrations of bombshells and studs. Originating in the first half of the 20th century, these books weren't known for their quality; these were lowbrow detective novels, romances, and sci-fi aimed at the general public.

But pulp covers aren't only reserved for second-rate titles. Classic works of literature have been reimagined in the lurid style, too. As Emily Temple at Lit Hub reported, pulp editions of classic novels have been printed since the 1940s and '50s, and they were done in the same style as the genre fodder. The strategy here was to sell the literary canon to the average reader, even though they would likely find that the book they were reading was not as sexy as the cover seemed to imply (although, as readers of the classics know, those hallowed tomes have their risqué moments, too.)

Temple has compiled 50 of these over-the-top, endlessly absurd covers for your browsing pleasure, including works from Jane Austen, the Brontës, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and George Orwell. Here are a few of the best:

1984 and Heart of Darkness pulp covers

Courtesy of Steve, Flickr

Of course Signet picked 1984's Junior Anti-Sex League as the source of the cover art for this 1954 edition of George Orwell's classic. Sex sells, and so does slapping the words "Forbidden Love" on the cover. As for this copy of Heart of Darkness from 1952: literally everyone on the cover is shirtless.

Madame Bovary pulp cover
Heritage Auctions

The red lipstick and the pose make Madame Bovary look more like a 1950s pin-up girl than a woman living in the 19th century.

What are these people's clothes made out of? Silk? Clouds? Mist?

Head to Lit Hub to peruse the full collection.

[h/t Lit Hub]

Newly Discovered Documents Reveal Details of William Shakespeare's Early Years, Based on His Father's Financial Fall

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Newly discovered documents found in the UK's National Archives reveal that William Shakespeare's father was in deep legal and financial trouble for most of the Bard's childhood, according to The Guardian. The 21 documents, previously unknown to scholars, were discovered in the archives by University of Roehampton Shakespeare historian Glyn Parry during the course of his research for a book about the playwright's early life.

Records had previously shown that William Shakespeare's father, John, an entrepreneur, landlord, and occasional politician, was in trouble with the law during the playwright's youth. He was accused of illegal money lending and wool trading without a license (wool was highly taxed at the time, making it a valuable smuggled good) between 1569 and 1572, when the young William was between around 5 and 8 years old. Scholars assumed that John settled the cases out of court, but these new documents show that his legal woes lasted much longer—up until at least 1583—which no doubt contributed to William's worldview and the topics he wrote about in his plays.

Parry discovered the documents by poring over the National Archives' trove of historical material related to Britain's Exchequer, or royal treasury. He found record of John Shakespeare's debts and writs against him, including ones authorizing sheriffs to arrest him and seize his property for the Queen as punishment for his crimes. He owed a sizable sum to the Crown, according to these documents, including a debt of £132, or in 2018 dollars, about $26,300 (£20,000).


Writ of capias to Sheriff of Warwickshire to seize John ‘Shackispere’ of Stratford upon Avon
Crown Copyright, courtesy of The National Archives, UK

John Shakespeare's crimes against the Crown were reported by professional informants, known as "common informers," who, within the Exchequer system, were entitled to half of the goods seized from the person they helped convict. The system, unsurprisingly, was riddled with corruption, and informers would often attempt to extort bribes from their victims in exchange for not taking them to court.

John's legal jeopardy damaged his financial standing within the community where he had served as a constable, an alderman, and a high bailiff (a position similar to town mayor). The government could seize his property at any time, including wool he bought on credit or money he had loaned to other people, making him a risky person for people to do business with.

"So John Shakespeare fell victim to a perfectly legal kind of persecution, which ruined his business through the 1570s, and William grew to adulthood in a household where his father had fallen in social and economic rank," Parry explained to The Guardian. This no doubt influenced his view of power, social standing, and money, all subjects he would explore in detail in his plays.

[h/t The Guardian]

George R.R. Martin Says Game of Thrones Could've Gone on Much Longer

Rich Polk, Getty Images for IMDb
Rich Polk, Getty Images for IMDb

by Natalie Zamora

Despite the excitement every Game of Thrones fan had last night when the HBO series won the biggest Emmy award of the night for Outstanding Drama Series, there are still two major things we just can't ignore. The first is that the final season is still ​months away, and the second is the fact that it's all about to end.

George R.R. Martin, the genius behind the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, is clearly feeling our pain. While on the Emmys' Red Carpet last night, the famed author revealed he doesn't actually know why the TV series is ending.

"I dunno. Ask David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] when they come through," Martin replied when Variety asked him why the show was ending. "We could have gone to 11, 12, 13 seasons, but I guess they wanted a life."

"If you've read my novels, you know there was enough material for more seasons," the author elaborated. "They made certain cuts, but that's fine." It's not really fine for the diehard fans who aren't going to know what to do with themselves when it's over!

Thankfully, Martin did give us hope as to ​what's to come after Thrones. "We have five other shows, five prequels, in development, that are based on other periods in the history of Westeros, some of them just 100 years before Game of Thrones, some of them 5000 years before Game of Thrones," he shared.

Westeros Forever. No? Fine.

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