Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Argosy (February 1955, January 1956)

     Argosy (February 1955, January 1956) Uncle Paul subscribed to this magazine, and sent his copies to Mother. I looked forward to them, I liked the ship on the cover, and every issue had one or more surprises. Most of the selections were reprints. The magazine reprinted short stories and excerpts from novels, as well three or four themed collections of short passages. There were several original stories, and part of a serialised novel. A prize crossword and one or more quizzes exercised the memory. Quite a feast for anyone who liked to read fiction.
     The stories covered several genres, adventure romance, fantasy, human interest, crime, and so on. No surprises, tried and true formulas, almost all with a twist at the end. One knew what one was getting. This was the magazine’s strength and ultimately its weakness. People turned more and more to TV for their fiction fix. But while it lasted, Argosy delivered well-crafted writing. Many of the authors were best-sellers at the time, others became so. These copies include Ray Bradbury, Paul Gallico, Edith Pargeter, Ludwig Bemelmans, Sean O’Faolain, Elizabeth Bowen.
     What’s just as interesting is the advertising. Almost all of it is for correspondence courses in writing, or career-enhancing skills. The ads are wordy, aimed at people who feel more or less unsuccessful, and want some way of improving their social and economic standing. It was a time when people were encouraged to feel that they could take control of their lives (Pelmanism appears in every issue), to overcome the  disadvantages of birth, education, and life history. Many ads include anecdotes (“original letters may be inspected at...”) testifying to the wonderful effects of the course or the nostrum.
     A pleasant read. Contents ** to ***

1 comment:

PFRK said...