Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Bedside Tales: Armed Services Edition

Armed Services Edition No. 933 published in November of 1945 was a selection of short stories from The Bedside Tales (1945). It was issued six months after VE Day, a time when soldiers waiting to be demobilized might have had a fair amount of time for free reading.
The Bedside Tales:  Armed Services Edition (1945)

The book purports to be "an anthology of the finest modern writing" with a cover illustration and introduction by New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno. The cover also bears the names of the collection's ostensibly most marketable writers in a vertical banner along the left side of Arno's art. Any author unfortunate enough to own a name longer than that of William Saroyan is listed by surname only—i.e., Bemelmans, Hemingway, and Woollcott—the minor indignity thus resolving a typesetter's major dilemma.

Yet it is Arno's name that is the most prominent on the cover, which gives an idea how essential both his cover art and his public persona were thought to be in selling at least the regular edition of the book (the Armed Services Edition wasn't actually offered for sale). The hybrid typography of the title could lead one to conjecture that Arno may have thought the collection was going to be titled simply Bedside Tales, the article The placed alongside his hand-drawn title as an afterthought. Perhaps, perhaps not, but to most buyers Arno's cover art alone must have seemed well worth the price of admission...with no disrespect meant to Ludwig, Ernest, or Alexander.

The Bedside Tales (1945)

The Bedside Tales:  Armed Services Edition
AbeBooks Listing Accessed May 30, 2020

The Bedside Tales
AbeBooks Listing Accessed May 30, 2020

Note:  At the time of this posting, both editions of The Bedside Tales seen here remain available for sale on AbeBooks.

This is my 135th post about Peter Arno. I could use some new material on him. Please send scans or photos of original art or other Arno rarities.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Peter Arno

Ernest Hemingway

Alexander Woollcott

Attempted Bloggery's Bedside Index


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