Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Paperback 1039: The Bridge Over the River Kwai / Pierre Boulle (Bantam HP4391)

Paperback 1039: Bantam HP4391 (35th ptg, 1970)

Title: The Bridge Over the River Kwai
Author: Pierre Boulle
Cover artist: Barye Phillips

Condition: 8/10
Estimated value: $5

Best things about this cover:
  • My wife actually spotted this one on the $1 cart outside the bookstore. My initial immediate response was "meh" but then I held it and noticed a. the condition (excellent) and b. the quality of the art, which really is exquisite. 
  • I love how Bantam has let the cover breathe. You can see how they might've used the painting differently, maybe cropping it differently and putting text (title / author) in or on top of the red sky. But this way, the painting really feels like a painting, and that sky is allowed to take up space and create its mood. The composition is also arresting.
  • Me: "I know this artist ... Kalin? ... Hooks? ... [looks very closely at painting] oh, man, it's Barye Phillips!" Phillips signs simply "Barye," which you can see just to the left (your left) of the Japanese soldier's hand. I'm used to seeing girl art / crime fiction scenes from him, so this was cool and unexpected. 
Best things about this back cover:
  • Again: rooooom for my eyes to breeeeeathe. I like.
  • No need to waste time (i.e. words) when dealing with a book this well known (from the 1957 movie). Both front and back covers really do go in for more of a museum treatment than a typical book promo treatment.
Page 123~
Never before had he been conscious of that feeling of power and conquest which absolute isolation affords, whether on a mountaintop or in the bowels of the earth.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]


DemetriosX said...

I wondered it this was just a repurposed movie poster. All that space would certainly leave room for a title and the names of the stars, and the two main figures certainly resemble Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa. I can't find one like this, though. Several do feature a strong red backdrop, so the artist might have taken some inspiration from a poster or two.

Larry said...

This was the edition I read in 9th grade English class. That was in 1968, so I assume that Rex's date of 1970 may have been for the most recent printing. Or my memory is foggy.

We were reading books on the Orient, so you had a choice of this, Bridges at Toki-Re, Sayanora, and a coupe more. Just a small glimpse of the mystic East. I suppose now days kids read literature from Asia with just a glimpse (disapproving) of the West.