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Sunday, 8 August 2010

Happy birthday Penguin!

Penguin is celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, and to honour the birthday, they've re-released some classic British titles with a clever and eye-pleasing gimmick. They selected five works from the 1950s, five from the 1960s, five from the 1970s, and five from the 1980s to reprint. Once they had the titles, they found an artist who was important or in some way represented the zeitgeist of that decade, and asked her/him to re-design the covers for their decade.

The result? Judge for yourself - here is the small collection we've amassed, with titles from each decade:

The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman is the title which initially caught my eye in a bookstore in Spain, and it is just as crazy a story as the lipsticked cover might indicate.

From the back cover:
"Angela Carter's The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman was published in 1972 and has been hailed as one of the finest surrealist novels in the language. In this magical adventure, Desiderio is stricken with love for Albertina, a woman he sees only in his dreams. He must also battle against Doctor Hoffman and his mysterious machines as they bend time and space to turn Desiderio's city into a nightmare of lust, insanity and crime. But the evil Doctor is also Albertina's father..."

How can you resist this book when I tell you that Desiderio learns to communicate in birdsong? But seriously, perhaps the most interesting thing about the series is that the folks at Penguin didn't try to choose the biggest sellers or most well-known titles from a decade, opting to focus on books that represent the cultural moment in which they were written. Cultural history lessons... and so pretty!

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