Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Royal Books Giant Editions, #G-14, 1953

Title : Matador
Author : Marguerite Steen
Cover art : uncredited
[New York : Royal Books Giant Editions, #G-14, 1953. “Complete and unexpurgated.” First published in hardcover, 1934, Little, Brown & Co. The Royal reprint features [anon.] front cover art depicting a beautiful Spanish woman in traditional garb with bullfighting tableau in background. Back cover is a collage-like combination of street scene, hillside Spanish village, and scantily clad gypsy dancer]

style ***
substance **
collectibility **

Vintage torero
I came across this title a few days ago at a local antiquarian bookstore. I’d never heard of Royal Giant – they really are ‘giant’ books, about double the size of your customary vintage-era paperback. A little research reveals them to be a purveyor of some fairly sensationalist stuff, tending toward exotic and adventure stories in content [1] , with even a few double novels à la Ace in their canon. But the really fun part of this book – aside from the strangely campy/beautiful cover art – is the discovery of the hitherto un-noticed classic era paperback subgenre, that of bullfighting vintage. It’s a rather specialized sub-topic; I don’t recall seeing a lot of other material. There are the obvious titles like Death in the Afternoon and The Brave Bulls. And then there’s Barnaby Conrad’s version of Matador, given a memorable cover by Dell Books and artist Stanley Borack, and of course Blood and Sand (another fine Dell cover), both from the early fifties. Perhaps The Sun Also Rises could be included, but it’s a stretch.

[1] Jimgrim Sahib and Affair in Araby being two examples (but my favorite has to be The Harem of Hsi Men, aka Chin P'ing Mei).

No comments:

Post a Comment