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Pulp literature

Originally, the term pulp denoted cheap paper, first produced in the 1850s. Since then, it has also acquired the meaning of cheap literature: a host of maligned literary genres that probably begins with chivalric romances, then moves to dime novels and men's magazines. [Apr 2006]

Authors: Edgar Rice Burroughs - HR Haggard - Gaston Leroux - Sax Rohmer - Eugène Sue - Edgar Wallace

Magazines: Argosy magazine Strand magazine

By country: dime novel (USA) - Groschenroman (DE) - penny dreadful (UK) - French pulp fiction

Related tropes and formats: adventure - cheap - commercial - comics - crime fiction - exploitation - giallo novels - "low culture" - magazine - men's magazine - paperback - photonovel - Pulp Fiction (film) - sensation novel - sensationalism - serial fiction - sleaze - trash

Wood pulp (paper)

A.D. 1850
Friedrich Gottlob Keller of Germany devises a method of making paper from wood pulp. However the paper is of poor quality.

A.D. 1852
Hugh Burgess, an Englishman, perfects the use of wood pulp by 'digesting' the wood with chemicals.

A.D. 1867
C.B. Tilghman, an American chemist, improved the process of making paper from wood by using sulfites during the pulping process.

A.D. 1879
C.F. Dahl, a Swede finally perfected the use of wood by adding yet another chemical. His 'sulfate' method spread rapidly and reached the United States in about 1907.

A.D. 1883
Charles Stillwell invented a machine to make brown paper bags for groceries in Philadelphia. Today more than 20 million paper bags are used annually in supermarkets. Many of these are recycled into new bags and boxes.

A.D. 1889 - 1900
Economical, mass produced paper became a reality. Paper production doubled to about 2.5 million tons per year. Newspapers, books, and magazines flourished. Paper found its way into schools, replacing the writing slate. --http://www.paperandmore.com/articles/109-history-paper.html [Oct 2005]

Pulp magazines

Pulp magazines, often called simply "pulps", were inexpensive text fiction magazines widely published in the 1930s - 1950s. The first "pulp" is considered to be Frank Munsey's revamped Argosy of 1894. Most of the few pulps still thriving today are science fiction or mystery magazines.

The name comes from the cheap woodpulp paper on which they were printed. Magazines printed on better paper and usually offering content more oriented towards family reading were often called "slicks." Pulps were the successor to the "penny dreadfuls" and "dime novels" of the nineteenth century.

Though many respected writers wrote for pulps, the magazines are perhaps best remembered for the fast-paced, lurid, sensationalistic and exploitive stories often featured in their pages. Pulp covers were famous for their half-dressed damsels in distress, usually awaiting a rescuing hero.

Many classic science fiction and crime novels were originally serialized in pulp magazines such as Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, and Black Mask.

The format eventually declined (most dramatically in the 1950's) with rising paper costs, competition from comic books, television, and the paperback novel.

The genre also gave name to the movie Pulp Fiction. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulp_magazine [Dec 2004]

Wood pulp in stead of linen pulp (late 1800s)

Using wood to make paper is a fairly recent innovation. In the 1900s [1800s?], fiber crops such as linen fibres were the primary material source, but a shortage led to experimentation with other materials. Around 1850, a German named Friedrich Gottlob Keller crushed wood with a wet grindstone to obtain wood pulp. Further experimentation by American chemist C.B. Tilghman and Swedish inventor C.F. Dahl enabled the manufacture of wood pulp using chemicals to break down the fibres. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_pulp#History [Jun 2005]

Paper remained a luxury item through the centuries, until the advent of steam-driven paper making machines in the 19th century, which could make paper with fibres from wood pulp. Although older machines predated it, the Fourdrinier paper making machine became the basis for most modern papermaking. Together with the invention of the practical fountain pen and the mass produced pencil of the same period, and in conjunction with the advent of the steam driven rotary printing press, wood based paper caused a major transformation of the 19th century economy and society in industrialized countries. Before this era a book or a newspaper was a rare luxury object and illiteracy was the norm for the majority. With the gradual introduction of cheap paper, schoolbooks, fiction, non-fiction, and newspapers became slowly available to nearly all the members of an industrial society. Cheap wood based paper also meant that keeping personal diaries or writing letters ceased to be reserved to a privileged few in those same societies. The office worker or the white-collar worker was slowly born of this transformation, which can be considered as a part of the industrial revolution.

Unfortunately, the original wood-based paper was more acidic and more prone to disintegrate over time. Documents written on more expensive rag paper were more stable. The majority of modern book publishers now use acid-free paper. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper#History [Jun 2005]

see also: paper - pulp - 1800s

Victorian era

In the Victorian age, new technology like the steam press caused an increase in the consumption of pulp fiction, mainly purchased by the working classes, and cheap newspaper further advanced leisure publicity.

Edgar Wallace and Sax Rohmer in the public domain?

Franco was brought to the attention of Harry Alan Towers by his 1967 surrealism-tinged opus, "Succubus". The producer was mining a lucrative seam by adapting the public domain works of Sax Rohmer and Edgar Wallace for the screen, and was looking for a suitable director to helm a feature based on the work of the Marquis de Sade. The dreamlike eroticism of "Succubus" convinced him Franco was the man for the job! The director was set to work on the latest in a series of Fu Manchu films ("The Blood of Fu Manchu") while Towers thrashed out a screenplay under his pen-name, Peter Welbeck. The film was eventually shot in Barcelona amid buildings designed by 19th century architect Antonio Gaudi and a virtual who's who of Euro-cult cinema. It's one of the most sumptuous looking Franco movies but is ultimately a rather stilted affair; even the eroticism is rather discreetly done, and the film ends up feeling not really representative of either Franco or de Sade. --http://www.horrorview.com/Marquis%20De%20Sade's%20Justine.htm [Jul 2005]

Pulp : Reading Popular Fiction (1998) - Scott McCracken

Not sure if this will hold up after reading [Jan 2006]

Pulp : Reading Popular Fiction (1998) - Scott McCracken [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Pulp brings together in one volume chapters on the bestseller, detective fiction, popular romance, science fiction and horror. It combines a lucid and accessible account of the cultural theories that have informed the study of popular fiction with detailed readings of particularly Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper, Colin Dexter, William Gibson, Stephen King, Iain Banks, Terry McMillan and Walter Mosley. Scott McCracken argues that popular fiction serves a vital function in the late twentieth century: it provides us with the means to construct a workable sense of self in the face of the disorientating pressures of modernity.

About the Author
Scott McCracken is Lecturer in English at the University of Salford.

See also: pulp fiction - popular fiction - paraliterature

Pulp Fictions of Medieval England: Essays in Popular Romance (2004) - Nicola McDonald

Pulp Fictions of Medieval England: Essays in Popular Romance (2004) - Nicola McDonald [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Pulp fictions of medieval England comprises ten essays on individual popular romances; with a focus on romances that, while enormously popular in the Middle Ages, have been neglected by modern scholarship. Each essay provides valuable introductory material, and there is a sustained argument across the contributions that the romances invite innovative, exacting and theoretically charged analysis. However, the essays do not support a single, homogenous reading of popular romance: the authors work with assumptions and come to conclusions about issues as fundamental as the genre's aesthetic codes, its political and cultural ideologies, and its historical consciousness that are different and sometimes opposed. Nicola McDonald's collection and the romances it investigates, are crucial to our understanding of the aesthetics of medieval narrative and to the ideologies of gender and sexuality, race, religion, political formations, social class, ethics, morality and national identity with which those narratives engage. --via Amazon.com

Nicola McDonald's collection and the romances it investigates are crucial to our understanding of the aesthetics of medieval narrative and to the ideologies of gender and sexuality, race, religion, political formations, social class, ethics, morality and national identity with which those narratives emerge. It should be valuable reading for specialists of medieval English literature and for theorists of medieval and modern popular culture; yet its inclusion of detailed introductory material makes it equally accessible to students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, taking courses in medieval literature. --via Amazon.co.uk

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