NABOKV-L post 0005336, Tue, 11 Jul 2000 10:45:42 -0700

Subject
Re: Maliszewski article (fwd)
Date
Body
From: Mark Bennett <mab@straussandasher.com>

Regarding the Maliszewski article: while browsing in Wahrenbrock's yesterday
(formerly the best used-book store in San Diego; now, alas, somewhat
diminished) I came across a Fawcett-Crest paperback of "King, Queen, Knave"
(1968) which has the absolute worst cover art of any paperback Nab I've ever
seen. It features two naked, rather yellow-skinned, humans embracing
against an indistinct mud-brown background. The artist no doubt intended to
represent two lovers in the throes of ecstatic passion, but he fell somewhat
short of that noble, if clichéd and inappropriate, goal. Rather, the artist
managed to suggest nothing so much as two unfortunate victims of terminal
liver disease clutching one another in resignation and despair; with the
hirsute, hulking male discharging his last ounce of strength in preventing
the more seriously ill female from collapsing into a fatal swoon. In other
words, the thing is priceless. The wretched cover illustration immediately
reminded me of VN's disgusted description of cinematic sex, as related in a
interview from the 1960s reproduced in "Strong Opinions." In fact, the thing
was so evocative that I'd like to think some connection exists between the
cover and VN's contemptuous comment; either VN had recently seen the cover
when he was drafting his answers to the interview, or, more amusingly, the
artist (as he generously may be identified) was aware of VN's comment, or
general distaste for explicit sexual expression, and took liberties with the
illustration which he knew would infuriate VN. A fanciful and highly
unlikely conjecture I'll admit, and as I no longer own a copy of "Strong
Opinions" (verandah, deck chair, sudden thunderstorm) I cannot cross-check
dates to establish even a tenuous tendril of support. In any event, I
haven't yet acquired a copy of the Maliszewski article so I'd be interested
to know if this particular cover is discussed, and better yet, reproduced
therein.

Mark Bennett