The Immortal – Walter Ross (Corgi Books, 1960)

At one point i think i’ve said someting along the lines that i won’t be looking for pocket/paperback books or include anything but hardcovers in my collection. This was early on and at that time i thought there actually might be quite a few pocket editions using the same design as the hardbacks, i know now that this is not the case. I think this one is the only title with different editions and publishers that use the same basic design, so how could i not have tried to find a copy?

There are a quite a few different editions of this book which i remember was a little frustrating when i was looking for the original edition by Simon & Schuster. Well, things hasn’t changed and it was equally frustrating this time around. Fortunately i didn’t have to put THAT much time into it. Ayways, this is ONE of the paperback editions published by Corgi Books. There are in fact two different editions of this Corgi pocket book and i think both were published in 1960, i’ve also been informed by Guy Minnebach that the second edition without Warhol’s design on the cover still has the text “The drawing on the cover of this book is by Andy Warhol” on the title page. The UK hardcover edition (to the right in the image below) was published the year before by Frederick Muller and just to get all the edition talk out ot the way there is also a US paperback (left below) that was published in 1959 by Cardinal. The cover design for all editions carry the same theme with the James Dean reference in one way or the other. Peronally i think he looks least cool in the Cardinal edition, or was playing bongos considered cool or what made you popular with the ladies in the late 50’s? Maybe, but i doubt it…

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I don’t intend to go on to long of a detour here but there is one pretty cool thing about the Frederick Muller edition. This is in no way Warhol related unless you want to take a looooong journey and finally getting into the whole Bowie+Warhol connection. I used to be quite into Bowie myself a long time ago, nowadays not so much. Anyways, i guess you don’t have to be a Bowie fan to recogDavid_Bowie_The_Immortalnize the cover for the Diamond Dogs album. The cover design was done by a Belgian artist named Guy Peellaert and featured Bowie as half-man, half-dog. It was apparently quite controversial at the time since it had the morphed creatures genitalia out and about on full display. Quickly pulled and airbrushed a few copies still hit the stores and are now super rare and of course MEGA expensive. The most recently sold i could find went for a crazy $5000. Anyways, i’m getting way of course here… but to get to the point, the basis for this painting by Guy Peellaert was a photoshot with Bowie by Terry O’Neil. Basically it featured Bowie and a dog and some images from the series you can see here. But what’s funny here is what’s by Bowie’s feet. So… recognize the book? Would have been cooler if it had been one of the editions with Warhol’s cover design, but still… This particular edition as well as the others with Warhol’s cover has also been mentioned on Bowie’s official site in some old and short posts here and here. Well, that was once again a whole lot of nothing…

So, to get this back on track. I became aware of this book pretty early on. One of the first copies of the original edition by Simon & Schuster i found was the one on Etsy, and that same seller also had a copy of the paperback. Due to the outragous asking prices it’s not surprising to see that both of them are still there now. Or maybe the price tags on these are actually resonable, it’s just that i’ve become obsessed with finding these at bargain prices. But not everyone has the time or interest to hold out and wait for it i guess. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time looking for the paperback, but sometimes when i’ve been bored i’ve spontaneously contacted some sellers on Amazon and Abebooks about copies where the edition wasn’t clearly stated. Almost all of these have been for the edition published by Frederick Muller. But then somewhere around new years this appeared on ebay… I’ve mentioned this many times before but ebay is certainly not the place for book hunting. So in one way it was a good thing that it happened to show up there, but on the other hand “Andy Warhol” was in the description which naturally could make it attract unwanted attention. Even though i hadn’t spent that much time trying to find it i was pretty set on making sure i got this copy seeing as it was basically the second copy i had ever seen. And even though there were more bidders (6) and interest than i thought no one besides me seemed to be overly interested and i ended up paying about $20 or so for it which i think was a pretty great deal! Shipping however seemed to have been done by horse and wagon to the docks followed by steamboat across the North Sea. It took about a month to arrive and i was starting to question if it would ever show up or if the boat had sank, but all is well that ends well.

I don’t know a whole lot about the design, or to be precise it’s more like i don’t know anything. I The_Immortal_Drawingshave seen some similar drawings which are obvously from the same series or whatever it’s called among the hundreds of early Warhol drawings discovered in 2013. And it is the exact same drawing that is used on both of the covers, but anyone can see that. And that’s about it. I have however tried to figure out if there is any connection between Simon & Schuster and Corgi Books in order to work out and understand the how’s and why’s regarding why they got to use the same deisgn for their edition. I haven’t been able to find anything though, and i don’t know how things like this work, so… i’ll leave it at that.

When it comes to the condition there is not much to be said. I’m pretty amazed that a paperback that’s 55 years old could have survived at all not to mention remain in such great shape. It basically looks unread, it still has it’s gloss as well as bright and clear colors. Though that might be expected since the design is black and white. I also suspect that this book has not changed hands that many times, if any. And it seems that the person who bought it in the first place really wanted to read it. While i was flipping through the pages a peice of paper fell out, at first i thought it was just a loose page but when i checked it out more closely it was actually a cut out review of the book from some old newspaper. It has some scribblings on it that i can’t make out apart from the year “1960”, so i take it someone read this review and found it interesting enough to promptly get a copy and keep the review as a bookmark. To bad it wasn’t signed “Warhol” though, that would have been a nice surprise. But i like the stories things like this tell in a way and it adds some nice patina to it all. And looking at the books side by side it’s hard to determine which one i prefer, but they do look pretty good together.

Since i don’t really see the Moderna Museet catalogue as part of my collection of dust jackets this will be put down as the first book of 2015 that i got my hands on. And i think it’s a pretty cool addition. More to come soon!

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4 thoughts on “The Immortal – Walter Ross (Corgi Books, 1960)

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