Friday 9 April 2010

Mordecai Richler's Wicked Novel

The Canadian author Mordecai Richler's second to fifth novels had a straight forward paperback publishing history. The first paperback editions of each were either Canadian or British. The Canadian editions were published in McClelland & Stewart's New Canadian Library (NCL) series. The only slightly off element was the sequence:

Son of a Smaller Hero (first edition 1955) - NCL 45 (1966)
A Choice of Enemies (1957) - NCL 136 (1977) [first paperback edition - Panther (UK), 1960]
Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959) - NCL 66 (1969) [first paperback edition - Penguin, 1964]
The Incomparable Atuk (1963) - first published in M&S's Canadian Best Seller Library series 7 (1965) then NCL 79 (1971)

Note the number of years before the paperback editions were published. Now of course a year would be the typical period.

Richler's first novel, The Acrobats, had a different paperback history. The first hardcover edition was the British published by Andre Deutsch in 1954. The first American was also published in 1954 by G. P. Putnam. There never has been a Canadian hard cover edition. The British edition was distributed in Canada by Wm. Collins. The last edition during Richler's life was a British paperback in 1970. Richler did not give permission to reprint and the first Canadian edition wasn't published until 2002, the year after he died. Fittingly it was in the NCL series.

In 1955, the American publisher Popular Library gave The Acrobats the classic mid century "tune-up" for paperback editions with a change in title, cover and blurbs. Nothing Canadian on these covers.

The Popular Library cover illustration mirrors the Andre Deutsch version. There's a man and a woman with the man, for some reason, holding paint brushes but not painting. But the characters have switched places from bed to standing. Obviously the change is to get the woman front and centre in the Popular edition (there's no doubt she's more attractive than our odd looking artist on the Deutsch). On the Canadian cover is the painting "Young Canadian". The subject is 29 year old Canadian painter Carl Schaefer.

Andre Deutsch

Popular Library 677

Popular Library 677 back

New Canadian Library

New Canadian Library back

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