17 May 2012

What Is Pulp Fiction?

Two Definitions for Pulp Fiction

If you ask the average person on the street what pulp fiction is, you will collect three answers rather than two. Unfortunately, the most common response is, “I don’t know.” This answer will come, most often, from those born after the era of pulp fiction. From those of the older generations, or those of the younger generation who have looked up the word, you will receive the other two answers. The first definition describes pulp fiction as novels or short stories printed on cheap paper that contain sexually explicit content. This version describes pulp fiction as cheaply written stories that used sex as part of their allure. The second definition alludes to the same inexpensive paper but relates the content as “escapism.” In this second description, the stories contain wild adventures in exotic settings that allowed the readers to escape their ordinary lives.

What Is the Definition of Pulp Fiction?

Pulp fiction stories were written on cheap, pulpy paper with ragged edges, but which usually had an exiting full-color cover. Some of the stories did contain sexually explicit content and, often, the covers showed scantily clad women in distress. Though such content was part of pulp fiction, it does not truly define it. Pulp fiction included a vast array of genres, such as western, romance, science fiction and crime. Therefore it is more appropriate to describe pulp fiction as exciting and exotic fiction written on inexpensive paper.

Where Did Pulp Fiction Go?

Pulp fiction was a very popular medium for the average person in the decades leading up to World War II. Though various articles cite different reasons for the decline of pulp fiction books, most agree that war related paper shortages created a rise in paper costs. Despite the decline of the medium, pulp fiction left a lasting mark on culture in the United States and worldwide. Some suggest that pulp fiction created the idea of the rough and tumble American hero. Pulp fiction characters include Conan the Barbarian, The Shadow, Buck Rogers and Tarzan. Though the era has passed, present day writers still build from the foundation that the heyday of pulp fiction created. 

Links to sites that describe the history of pulp fiction:

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