Day: May 17, 2015

Murder must advertise ! The Victor Gollancz Crime Series and consuming culture

Sayers

Dorothy L. Sayers, Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror, Second series, London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1931 (7th printing 1949)

Starting in 1928, Left-wing publisher Victor Gollancz devised some of the most eye-catching covers for the books  it published.  Their vibrant yellow colour stood out on the bookstalls. Gollancz had a special  paper shipped from Germany to produce dust wrappers whose yellow would not fade (although it is obvious from the pictures here  that it eventually did). Amongst these were a good number of Crime Fiction books, including those of Dorothy Sayers, who had herself worked in the advertising industry. The title of her novel Murder must advertise  worked  both as a description (it is set in the world of advertising) and as a commentary on the aggressive commercial signal sent by the conditioning of her books. Fittingly, the Sex Pistols would later use the same colours as the Gollancz publications for the packaging of their own attack on consumer culture.

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