Would you read pulp literature?
I wondered what people here thought about pulp literature. Some authors which have been considered this kind of reading have been Edgar Rice Burroughs and perhaps some of the comic books which were popular in the 1960’s. My opinion was that the books were certainly not great literature like Shakespeare, but they are good enough for entertainment. Does anyone here like or think highly of Tarzan or John Carter of Mars? I used to read them when I was young and I really liked them, although I was a little embarrassed to tell anyone else. C.S. Lewis was a much better writer than Burroughs, but I think Burroughs is still okay for entertainment, although his writing doesn’t have nearly as much depth as Lewis’. The plots of Burroughs’ books are often very similar (especially the Tarzan novels) and the characters have little depth. The books are not excellent literature, but I see no harm in reading them.
Would you mind defining it please? I immediately think of scruffy old second hand paperback book shops - like the one where I bought my first copies of Lewis's Space Trilogy.
Alternatively I think of big sized paperbacks sold in bookshops , neither the covers nor the sizes (too hard to hold comfortably for me) attract me
There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
"...when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards."
It’s kind of hard to define it exactly, but these are books that are not considered great literature, but they are lot of the same kind of writing. For example, there are twenty four Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs and they all have similar plots. And of course comic books also used to be cheaply printed. Pulp literature is also called pulp fiction, which is pretty much the same thing. Pulp refers to the large amount of paper that is used to print the books. They usually are low in price (at least the paperbacks). I think they used to be called dime store novels before there were dollar stores. I think they were called “penny dreadfuls” in England. So they didn’t always have the best reputation, although Burroughs’ books aren’t all that bad. Tarzan was loved by children of past generations. 🙂
Pretty sure Lewis himself was a major fan of the pulps. I read that She, by H. Rider Haggard, was an influence, and I can see glimmers of other pulp influences here and there as well, like H. P. Lovecraft and Welles (The Time Machine.)
I’m not sure about L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series of books. The books are a lot of the same thing, but they are good for children and are of quite good quality. There are a lot of them, and you could say that Baum overused his good idea. However, to call them pulp literature seems a bit harsh. It’s hard to criticize something that you enjoy. I bought two collected hardcover volumes of the stories not too long ago, and they are high quality books. So perhaps the Baum’s Oz books were good although not great children’s literature. They certainly are wholesome enough to love. 🙂
For anyone who is interested in reading about the life of Edgar Rice Burroughs there is the excellent biography Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Created Tarzan. The book is in two large volumes and has many pictures along with much information. I think it is now out of print, but it may be still available in libraries and used book stores. It is really interesting reading! 🙂
What is interesting is that even scientists like Carl Sagan were inspired to explore space by reading science fiction such as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars:
So I guess that the books aren’t all bad even though some people may criticize them. They may have some value beyond mere entertainment. 🙂
Now that I am rereading the first ten of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books I think there is more to them than I previously thought. There are some delightful characters in them like the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, and the novels develop them more than the 1939 movie. The books don’t have the depth of Narnia or Middle Earth, but they work quite well as fantasy. The stories are interesting and very readable (especially for children). I love their old fashioned charm. I would certainly recommend them to anyone.
@narnian78 I've read at least the first four or five Oz books — don't think I made it further than that, but I did enjoy them. The first one is one of the earliest books (other than Enid Blyton) I can remember Mum reading to / with me — I must have been about 4 at the time and loved it. That one must have been before my introduction to Narnia, since I know for sure I didn't make any mental connection between the Cowardly Lion and a certain other (entirely NON-cowardly) literary lion who was to become the most important character in fiction — and beyond it — for me. I met him later that same year when, while we were staying at my grandparents' place, Mum started reading me a book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe...
"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."