11 June 2012

Monday Morning with Aphrodite

© The Estate of Leo Orenstein
What better way to begin the work week than with Aphrodite? Sadly, it seems that this particular edition of Paul Louÿs' erotic novel of Alexandria was never issued.

All signs indicate that the image above, which comes courtesy of artist Leo Orenstein's family, was commissioned by Toronto's Fireside Publications. Had it been published, this Aphrodite would have competed in the Canadian market with American editions flooding in from the south. Since 1933, the novel had been part of the Modern Library – this is the cover being used in the early 'fifties, when Fireside was in operation:

At $1.25, Modern Library's tasteful hardcover might have challenged Fireside's cheap, pulpy 50¢ paperback, but the real competition would've come from Avon. No one exploited Aphrodite quite like Avon:

Avon was having such a good time that in 1957, Berkley got in on the action with this, the first of their two editions:

But just who is that on the Avon and Berkley covers? It can't be the Goddess of Love, she only appears in the novel as a statue.

No, it must be the beautiful courtesan Chrysis, the main female character. It seems that only Leo Orenstein knew the book well enough to depict her as Louÿs describes: a blonde.

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulous post. You are a Book Detective!