Jan 12

Purple PrivatesClick for larger image

Bibliomancer Comments: Purple prose, to be sure.

Published 1935

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 6.33 out of 10)

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20 Responses to “Purple Pirate”

  1. THX 1139 Says:

    Talbot Mundy, born on… Grundy?

  2. Francis Boyle Says:

    It’s a good thing he’s wearing three bat capes because he ain’t staying in that rigging long.

  3. Tag Wizard Says:

    Purple Pirate ready for some friggin in the riggin

  4. Tat Wood Says:

    “Harr, Puerus-Jacobus” Purple probably means that murx-shell dye so expensive the cover-printer couldn’t afford it. Why a wealthy Latin-speaker would turn to crime might be more intriguing in the 1930s than today.

    He’s get rope-burns in all sorts of places, unless he drops onto those halbards.

  5. Bruce Munro Says:

    @Tat Wood: he’s doing his Errol Flynn pose.

  6. B. Chiclitz Says:

    A drop onto the halbards seems inevitable the moment he tries to get his sword back into that once-again-misplaced scabbard.

  7. A. R. Yngve Says:

    Not THAT “purple pirate”…?

  8. GSS ex-noob Says:

    So… we didn’t have the technology to actually print purple in 1935? Couldn’t he have been called “The Blue Buccaneer”?

    The title and parts of his cloak are maybe kinda purple, but blue is the overwhelming impression here.

    Also, he and the others are in full Roman kit, but the oncoming ship is maybe Viking? But apparently he’s Greek?

    I will say that at least this is better than the reprints of this series (click Mundy’s name to see those covers), where they insisted on jamming the back cover blurb onto the ship’s sails.

    @Tat: Murex provided a sort of what we’d call reddish-purple, and I think the printer might have been able to do that. However, I gotta agree, climbing the rigging sans trou is going to leave him with some gnarly rope burns (and sailing ship’s ropes were often tarred!). Notice none of the spearmen are looking up, and probably for good reason.

    He’s either going to fall on them or else be swept overboard by the wind in all his cloaks (which seems to be blowing the opposite way as the wind in the sail?) and drown. The sea looks to have some good-sized waves, judging from the angle of the mast and the ship in the background.

    Yeah. He’s about to be an ex-pirate.

    @BC: Roman legionaries wore their swords on the right. Of course they were rigged up differently. Plus he’s not going to last long enough to put that sword away… but why he’s got his sword out while he’s up there is a mystery. Is he going to take a swing at those pesky seagulls?

  9. fred Says:

    A little towering is better than no towering at all.

  10. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @GSSxn—Thank you for the historical armaments info. A little quick surfing indicates that they wore swords on the right because it made it less likely they would stab their neighbor when drawing in close formation. Also shields were carried on the left arm (I should have thought of that). One writer noted that the Gladius was short enough so that, if the scabbard were tilted slightly forward and worn high on the right hip, it could be drawn pretty quickly. Another noted that officers wore their swords on the left to show that they were above having to do the infantry thing in tight quarters. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I shall certainly be more circumspect in my future comments on swords and scabbards! At any rate, purple boy seems destined for the halberds.

  11. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @BC: My pleasure. All my years of reading Roman history have to be good for something, and everything I’ve read agrees with your precis.

    I don’t see the chain-loop-thingy-arrangement on this guy’s scabbard, so I’m not sure he could do the proper gladius/xiphos draw. His seems to be dangling unsecured from a sash over his shoulder, which makes me think it’s going to be flailing around wildly due to the pitching of the ship and the stiff breeze, and possibly interference from one or more of his capes. Proper scabbards of this (or most any) era would have been affixed to the belt, a much more stable arrangement.

    The chap should have been accoutered like this:


    1. do feel free to continue commenting upon non-Classical-Mediterranean scabbards.

    2. no matter what side his sword’s on, he’s ending up on the spears (not halberds) of the deck chaps. Pirate-kabob.

  12. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @GSSxn—Not to get too far off thread (are there threads on GSS?), but I’m going to guess you like Mary Beard. I’ve read Laughter in Ancient Rome and SPQR, plus a bunch of random articles. I think she is a fantastic writer.

  13. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @BC: I ADORE Mary Beard. I bought SPQR in hardback, new! I also have her book on Vesuvius, the one on the Roman Triumph (those in trade paperback), read others, and watch her TV shows.

    Somehow I feel she would mock The Purple Pirate right along with us.

  14. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @GSSxn—I suspect her comments would earn multiple GSS’s!

  15. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @BC: We would have to give her an enormous stash of GSS’s, perhaps made into a laurel crown.

    It’s delightful how many non-SF-art-related like minds I’ve found here at GSS; we do seem to have overlapping interests.

  16. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @GSSxn—I think it’s a kind of shared sensibility; you know, on the bus/off the bus, dada for now, etc. It makes for a great refuge from the corporate-approved insanity known as “everyday life.” And we all deeply appreciate the liberating imaginations of these generations of SF writers, from the masters to the, well, not so masterful, who always tried to find a way out. Ripped off by cheesy publishers, misread by ignorant editors, thumbed through feverishly by lads looking for the naughty parts, they endure. As for their cover artists it’s just Unicorns! all the way down. For me, GSS is even better than being out standing in your Elysian Fields!

  17. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @BC: Agreed, with the exception that sometimes it’s Centaurs! all the way down, as seen in our long-time #1.

  18. Emster Says:

    Frustrated Publisher: Pirate stories are out, ancient Rome is in. Re-draw that pirate as a Roman Centurion and I think we may be able to salvage this stinker.

    Cover artist: (sigh) Sure…

  19. Hammy Says:

    @GSSxn (#15):

    Dare I say we should give Diane a laurel and hearty handshake? 😉

  20. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @Hammy: Get yer coat. Now.

    @BC: Since we last chatted on this page, I got MB’s latest (The 12 Caesars) for free in audio and watched a delightful interview between her and Tim Gunn.

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