Monday 21 July 2008


In honour of the recent rediscovery of the full version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, and inspired by this great series of illustrations (of which more below), here's a look at some of the covers which have graced Thea von Harbou's original novel.

Von Harbou was, for a time, Fritz Lang's wife: they wrote the scripts for M and Metropolis together. The marriage seems to have fallen apart, understandably enough, when Von Harbou joined the Nazis. Lang, an ardent anti-Nazi, seems to have fled Germany after his films began to be banned.

The only copy of Metropolis which I own is an electronic version, with the same workmanlike translation used in most of those editions shown below. The one I wish I owned, though, is the limited Donning edition of 1988, illustrated profusely by comics artist Michael Kaluta. Again, the images from this edition have been pinched from 'Golden Age Comic Book Stories'. Here we have the dustjacket, the front endpapers, and four internal illustrations. 'Golden Age...' has many, many more.

Here's the original German first edition: it's currently selling for around Aus$20,000.

This is the first English-language edition, from Reader's Library, with a nice film-inspired painted cover by Aubrey Hammond.

Here's an Ace paperback, which is unusual in being determinedly not inspired directly by the film.

Then there's this 2001 edition which contains the book alongside a number of images from the film and its promotional material: images widely panned in the various reviews as looking like badly reproduced photocopies.

Finally, this is the print-on-demand Wildside Press edition, which also features their usual extraordinarily vile typography.

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