Tag Archives: first edition

First Edition: ‘Couples’ by John Updike #oldbooks #bookcovers

John Updike became popular for his Rabbit series about Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom and the film of his book, The Witches of Eastwick, starring a devilish Jack Nicholson. But Couples, first published in 1968 in the USA by Knopf [below], is hailed as the novel which brought the Sixties sexual revolution to literary fiction. First editions of the Knopf hardback can be found on eBay for $15, and £15 on Amazon UK. Perhaps one to lay down for the future? Updike won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice, in 1982 and 1991, for two of his Rabbit books.

John Updike

Couples Knopf 1968 1st ed

The current UK Penguin Classics edition [below] dates from 2007. Buy

John Updike

Couples Penguin Classics 2007 current ed

The story
It is 1962 in Tarbox, Massachusetts. Against a backdrop of real historical events – the loss of the USS Thresher in 1963, the Profumo Affair, the Kennedy assassination – a group of ten promiscuous couples struggle to reconcile modern sexual freedoms with established Protestant sexual behaviour. The lyrical descriptions of sex made the book rather notorious. When asked about the difficulties of writing about sex, Updike said, “They were no harder than landscapes and a little more interesting. It’s wonderful the way people in bed talk, the sense of voices and the sense of warmth, so that as a writer you become kind of warm also. The book is, of course, not about sex as such: It’s about sex as the emergent religion, as the only thing left.”

Other editions 

John Updike

Couples – my Penguin 1981 ed

Above is my edition of Couples, Penguin UK 1981 and, below, a variety of covers UK, US and international editions from 1968 to today.

Read the first paragraph of Couples.

If you like old books, check out these:-
‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins
‘1984’ by George Orwell
‘Mrs Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
First Edition: COUPLES by John Updike #oldbooks #bookcovers https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3HJ via @SandraDanby

First Edition: ‘1984’ by George Orwell #oldbooks #firstedition

A novel which needs no introduction, 1984 by George Orwell [below], first published in the UK in 1949, has populated modern culture with its terms. Big Brother. Doublethink. Thoughtcrime. Newspeak. Room 101. Memory Hole. It regularly features in Best Of lists.

A first UK edition green jacket is for sale at Peter Harrington [above] for £4,000; the first impression was issued in either green or red jackets. Another UK first edition is also for sale, £9,750, owned and inscribed by friends of Eric Blair [Orwell], Eleanor and Dennis Collings.
George Orwell The current UK Penguin edition [above] dates from 2004. Buy

The story
The year is 1984.  Airstrip One is a province of Oceania, one of three totalitarian super states that rule the world. It is ruled by the ‘Party’, its ideology is ‘Ingsoc’, its leader is ‘Big Brother’. The people must conform to the system, spied on by the ‘Thought Police’ using two-way telescreens. Winston Smith is a member of the middle class Outer Party, he rewrites historical records to conform to the state’s vision. Winston has an affair with Julia, something which is an act of rebellion as the Party insists sex should only take place for reproductive purposes. Winston suspects his boss, O’Brien, may be a member of a secret underground resistance called the ‘Brotherhood’.

The film
Not an easy film to watch but, at the same time, impossible to turn away from. In the 1984 film, Winston Smith is played by a young John Hurt with Richard Burton, in his last screen appearance, as Inner Party member O’Brien. George Orwell It remains chilling to this day. Watch this scene, the first meeting of O’Brien [Burton] and Winston [Hurt].

Other editions
Although I read Orwell’s Animal Farm for the first time as an eleven-year old, I didn’t read 1984 until university when the year itself was rapidly approaching. I still have my copy, it’s the 1974 Penguin edition [below]. George Orwell

Read the first paragraph of 1984.

If you like old books, check out these:-
‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding
‘Jurassic Park’ by Michael Crichton
‘The Hobbit’ by JRR Tolkien

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
First Edition: 1984 by George Orwell #oldbooks https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3GW via @SandraDanby

First Edition: An Ice Cream War

Published in 1982 by Hamish Hamilton in the UK, An Ice Cream War by William Boyd is a darkly comic novel set in colonial East Africa during the Great War. It is one of the first novels by Boyd which I read, the others being A Good Man in Africa and Stars and Bars. This first edition hardback is signed by the author and selling [at time of going to print] for £175.

William Boyd

[photo: Eamonn McCabe]

William Boyd

It was shortlisted for the 1982 Booker Prize, won that year by Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.

The story
An Ice Cream War follows the fortunes of several disparate characters, including an expat farmer and a young English aristocrat, as they are swept up in the fighting in German East Africa during the First World War, their lives converging amid battle, betrayal, love, comedy and tragedy. Temple Smith is an American expat who runs a successful sisal plantation in East Africa, near Mount Kilimanjaro. Before war breaks out in August 1914, Smith is on cordial terms with his German half-English neighbour, Erich von Bishop. These separate strands gradually converge as the complacency of the artificial world of the British expat is swept away by war. Themes include greed, nationalism, love, and the futility of war.

The current UK edition
The current UK edition [below], published by Penguin, was re-issued in 2011. The images used on the front and back covers are from war footage from the Press Association archive. William BoydOther editions
My copy of An Ice Cream War [below] is well-thumbed, as are all my Boyd novels. William BoydThere have been many editions of this novel, here are some of the other British and US covers.

Read more about William Boyd’s books at his website.

‘An Ice Cream War’ by William Boyd [UK: Penguin] Buy at Amazon

If you like old books, check out these:-
‘The Sea The Sea’ by Iris Murdoch
‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ by John Fowles
‘Watership Down’ by Richard Adams

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
First Edition: AN ICE CREAM WAR by William Boyd #oldbooks via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2rN