art, book, culture, design, Desmond Morris author, Dust jackets, education, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Flickr, Graphic design, John Clute author, Lawrence Ratzkin, Rudolph de Harak, Science Fiction author Robert Silverberg, The Naked Ape book title, The Time Hoppers book title
The year is 1967 and two great books appeared that I must confess I did not read until three decades later. The dust jackets for these books are by two great graphic designers who succeeded in presenting their artistic ideas on the cover representing the very best of what the text is all about.
Upon closer look, the similarity of the two dust jackets is what strikes me the most. Both dust jackets show a sparse use of color. Line or outline and text placement do the rest. Both use two different colors for the text, and I favor the cleaner linear text use of The Time Hoppers by Robert Silverberg that reminds me of the Swiss graphic style.
The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris is a book meant to appeal to a reader who is interested in sociology and perhaps zoology, but in the end the book is about social behavioral patterns and their structures, perhaps also inherent in mankind. Written by an expert witness or authority it does not seem to raise questions. Those who have doubts about the content need only to refer to the back cover of the dust jacket below.
It has an opinion by the fascinating Hungarian born, British writer Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) whose major novel (1940) was an anti-totalitarian book titled Darkness at Noon. That book would be worthy of George Orwell who had shared similar views to those of Koestler and perhaps Koestler should have written an opinion on the Time Hoppers instead. The book has a simple “Orwellian” type statement on the back cover.
The prolific author of the book Robert Silverberg has a great number of awards to his credit and has written over 60 science fiction books under his own name, and although I am not a sci fi fan or frequent reader of sci fi, I think it is also one of Silverberg’s best books or perhaps better said his most Orwellian futurist book. The best site to learn about Robert Silverberg is the Majipoor site linked above.
Who are the two book cover designers? The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris has a jacket designed by Lawrence (Larry) Ratzkin. In the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction website, an excellent resource, we can find a number of illustrated covers by Ratzkin and to my surprise there is also an illustrated book cover shown for a book (1969) by Robert Silverberg. (photo from the collection of John Clute) Ratzkin uses a similar color here in the text for the author’s name as used in the Time Hoppers and it would not be hard to confuse the two designers.
Ratzkin also designed the jacket for another book by Morris, The Human Zoocovered by me in an earlier post. Now back to the Time Hoppers, the book cover designer is Rudolph de Harak (1924-2002) who left an important graphic design legacy. Over 350 book dust jackets, numerous record covers and many years of teaching do not do justice in describing his importance. A number of items can be found on Flickr.
In the Archives of American Art we find the only transcribed interview with Rudolph de Harak, done in 2002 shortly before his death.