Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Repackaging Ballard

A friend of mine is currently reading Crash and following a conversation about the book over lunch yesterday I took a quick stock take of my Ballard collection and was dismayed to discover I don’t have a copy of The Drowned World. A quick check at Amazon, reveals that The Drowned World and other key Ballard novels have been re-issued by Harper Collins imprint Fourth Estate with bright, attractive artwork and stylish typefaces. This has me musing on the presentation of past English-language editions of The Drowned World and lining them up together, it appears the novel’s tropical lagoon motif has captured the imagination of most of the book’s publishers, with an iguana appearing on no less than five of the covers. My favorite of these is Dick French’s artwork for the 1981 Dragon's Dream hardback edition (top row, far right) depicting two high-rises under attack from marauding flora and fauna. Another common theme is the sunken city, with St Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben and a pop art Chrysler Building disappearing beneath the rising flood waters. I think the ethereal Fourth Estate cover (bottom row far right) is the best among these. But my favorite Drowned World cover is Penguin’s 1965 paperback (top row, far left) which borrowed Yves Tanguy’s 1942 painting The Palace of Window Rocks (which is horizontally flipped for the paperback). Ballard loved and was greatly influenced by the Surrealists so I’d like to think he was pleased by Penguin’s selection. It was remiss of me not to properly credit these editions of The Drowned World, so I would encourage anyone interested to check out the excellent Terminal Collection of Ballard covers here


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