As I wrote in a post some time ago,
https://theracerx.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/pulp-fiction-a-lost-male-literary-genre, the old pulp magazines and novels were cheap but popular sources of fiction and entertainment before the age of film and television. The heyday of pulp literature was from about 1900-1950. With the advent of television, the pulp magazines entered a steady decline until their eventual extinction. The above photo beautifully captures the pictural and literary essence of the old pulp publications.
It is hard to imagine that there was a time when people could actually make a living by simply writing stories for these magazines. Some of the top writers of the twentieth century contributed to many of these publications, some of whom, like Edgar Rice Burroughs, become quite famous for their creations (Tarzan, John Carter of Mars). Burroughs is only one of many well known and good, even great, writers who contributed to these unique and entertaining forms of literature. And the cover art was truly magnificent. Some great artists worked on these magazines.
The above photo reflects the masculine orientation of the pulp literary world. In our age of the Oprah book of the month club, with its endless pink publication about sisters fighting with each other or other such girly themes, this seems like quite an anachronism. And yet it is still quite appealing. The colors are masculine: a shadowy blend of reddish orange and dark blues, it has the atmosphere of a good bar or pool hall. Every good pulp production has beautiful women and tough men, and this photo reflects that. Also, like some good hard boiled crime drama, the setting is urban, with a nighttime view of skyscrapers visible from the window. To me this would be a nice scenario: after working on some imaginative fiction in the midst of a filthy but dynamic and decadent metropolis like New York, the evening would be capped by a nice erotic rendevous with my hot secretary. Sex and pulps went hand in hand. In many ways the pulps, in their vigorous display of male sexual desire and fantasies, were the precursors to later porn publications. As I mentioned in my early post, the great phenomenon of the Pulp fiction is a lost male literary world.
One things the pulps did without apology was appeal to the imagination. In today’s world of video games and online this or that, the imagination is being sorely neglected. Fantasy is a wonderful part of the human experience. The use of the imagination is a powerful sexual stimulus. One of the things I dislike about so much modern porn is that so little is left to the imagination. Our imaginations, like anything else, can atrophy if not used on a regular basis. Part of the thrill of erotic experience is the simple wonder and enticement of the what if, the desire to explore more fully what are mind and desires are leading us towards. Older publications such as the pulps were able to capture these things in a way that most modern publications no longer can.
So here is toast to the wonderful, male world of the old pulp publications! May they live in our memories forever.
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Butterfly Flower said:
*sorry, I should have commented sooner*
Good post! I love pulp fiction, especially the vintage-lesbian erotica kind. You gotta hand it to vintage pulp writers, they really knew how compose compelling, believable lesbian sex scenes. You really can’t find that on today’s erotica market.
I also think there’s a glamorous, almost film-noir aspect to pulp fiction. The characters in pulp novels reflect on their behavior; like they know their indiscretion are wrong…but don’t care. They acknowledge that they’re giving into their raw, sexual passion. Modern erotica is basically “you’re hot, let’s have sex!”
Racer X said:
“I also think there’s a glamorous, almost film-noir aspect to pulp fiction. The characters in pulp novels reflect on their behavior; like they know their indiscretion are wrong…but don’t care. They acknowledge that they’re giving into their raw, sexual passion.”
Agreed. The last two sentences could easily describe me! I know my indiscretions are wrong, but I give in to them anyway. I enjoy my raw, sexual passion. I guess that is why I enjoy Pulp Fiction so much.