Pulp fiction


“Pulp is not only a descriptive term for certain forms of publishing produced on poor quality paper, but it is also indicative of certain attitudes, reading habits and social concerns. For the aficionado, this literature is exemplified by those forms of magazine and paperback publication which flourished between the 1920s and 1950s in America and which should be distinguished from both dime novels, paperbacks per se and comic books. For academics, the term vaguely expresses a field of popular publishing neglected through the overemphasis placed upon canonic texts, while for cultural critics it often has meant the exemplary instance of mass culture’s propensity to debase everything and exalt the lowest common denominator.” (p.3)

“…pulp takes us into the most bizarre corners of the most banal worlds – freakishness, the irrational, morbid eroticism. pathological conditions of all sorts, Martians, crop circles, spiritualism, UFOs, vampires, costumed superheroes, love at first sight; money, success, revenge – in short a whole other universe which is at once commonsensical and crackpot. Readers are alive to the fantasies of money and sexuality in an S and F fantasy of the modern world and yet they are prepared to accept Fortean explanations for almost any natural or physical phenomenon. …Pulp is public expression lived out privately. If human nature is at once private and historical (that is, subject to change) pulp my have more than art to tell us about ourselves. Pulp is the child of capitalism and is tied to the appearance of the masses and the urban, mediums of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As such it is the embodiment of capitalism aestheticized, consumerized and internalized. Hence it is both oppressive and liberating, both mass manipulation and anarchic individualistic destiny. Pulp is our daily, natural heightened experience: a product and a channel for a moment in human self-consciusness and its aspirations lived in the banal and in the now.” (p.14)

“Real pulp is a refusal of bourgeois consciousness and bourgeois forms of realism. It is capitalistic, anarchic, entrepreneurial and individualist and it found expression not only in the gaudy covers of pulp magazines, cheap paperbacks and comic books with their aliens, gangsters and silk-stockinged floozies in our century, but also in the flimsy chapbooks and ballad sheets of years before which celebrated the adventures of Jack Sheppard, Dick Turpin or Jack the [-p.15] Ripper. Here fiction and fact are both fantasy.” (14-15)

Ref: (italics in original) Clive Bloom (1996) Cult Fiction: Popular reading and pulp theory. Macmillan Press Ltd: London


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