Tag Archives: book covers

The demands of the flesh

While searching for an appropriate image for my post about CCTV I came across this:

1984 - George Orwell

Isn’t it fab? Now 1984 is all sorts of things, but sizzling with sex it ain’t. In fact that is rather the point, as I recall.

Years ago, when we were sorting out my brother’s books to clear some shelf space, we categorised them as “keep” “sell” and “assorted sordidities”. I think if Ma had come across this copy of 1984 it would probably have made it into that box. On the Road certainly did:

On the Road - Kerouac

(I didn’t know you could get cellulite around your waist; that’s rather worrying.)

My sister was startled to discover later that it qualified as a Penguin Modern Classic; she’d assumed it was some sort of schlocky adventure story with intermittent low-level porn and violence.

The Man from S.T.U.D, on the other hand is definitely a schlocky adventure story with low-level porn and violence. Actually, make that just low-level porn since it is endearingly unviolent. I bought it in Hay on Wye last summer simply for the camp 1970ness of it all and, amazingly, it manages to be readable in a post-modern ironic sort of way of course. I wouldn’t want you to think I read it without irony.

The Man from S.T.U.D.

You can’t read Therese Raquin ironically and the only reason I read it at all, racy though it is, is because I nicked it out of that same box of assorted sordidities without realising that it was a Great Classic of French Literature:


I can’t find the edition I read online, but you get the idea. Isn’t “Her body remained faithful to the wrong man” a great tag line? Though I’ll admit that “She listened only to the demands of the flesh” is even better. Chocolates. They are demands of the flesh. Which brings us back to cellulite around the waist. Hmmm.

I miss these blatent covers with Bardot-like beauties whose implausibly triangular breasts and tilty bedroom eyes seduce you into reading Capital-L Literature. These days book covers are so knowingly urbane and metro-cool that they are decidedly un-enticing and – well – boring. Proof, if proof were needed, that sex just isn’t sexy any more.

(The images take you through to the current editions on Amazon.)