A pulp take on classic literature
By Dante on February 20th, 2013
No doubt you’ve noticed the ever-growing influence of remix culture on literature — from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters to Android Karenina. (Ah, the joys of the public domain.) And while I tend to filter most of that out of my view, something caught my attention last week that hits me right where I live.
On Friday, The Independent blogged about an imprint called Pulp! The Classics that reimagines, graphically, classic novels as the lurid pulps of the 1930s-’50s. Nostalgia for the days of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Mickey Spillane isn’t entirely new — something called Hard Case Crime has been publishing new pulps (and republishing old, forgotten, or never-printed ones) for a few years. And while the books Pulp! publishes aren’t hard-boiled takes on, say The Great Gatsby or Wuthering Heights — the text is exactly what we’re familiar with — the packaging is in line with those tawdry paperbacks of yore: Lurid art, washed-out colors, and, most importantly, pithy taglines. My personal favorite is what’s screamed across Gatsby: “When it came to loving… He knew which Daisy to pick!”
These are really neat editions that revisit classics that can easily become staid without substantively altering what makes them classic. (And they tie into a historical moment in publishing when literature was published in sordid paperback editions.) When I brought what Pulp! is doing up to my fellow OOMers, some of them had interesting ideas for other books to get this treatment. Megan came up for a good line for a pulp-ified Gone With the Wind: ”Hang on to your shimmies, ladies — Rhett’s in town!” (“Scarlett O’Hara has that famous line about how Rhett Butler keeps looking at her as if he knows what she looks like without her shimmy on,” Megan explains.) For my part, I’d like to see The Grapes of Wrath emblazoned with “Taste Tom’s sour justice!”
But what about you? How would you reimagine a classic book as a pulp? Let us know in the comments section!
Photo: Cover of Pulp! The Classic’s edition of The Great Gatsby (Courtesy Pulp! The Classics)
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