Thursday, April 12, 2007
The Narrative of the Cover Art for Time Out of Joint: Part 2
Sales of the Lippincott hard cover of Time Out of Joint were poor. No doubt this was a disappointment to Dick who saw the novel as a bridge between science fiction and successful mainstream writers like Joyce and Hemingway. Following the book's poor performance, Ace published this cheap edition on pulp paper. Dick returned to the lurid covers of science fiction. What's more this cover helped ingrain a simplistic reading of the book.
From my thesis:
"N.B. Hayles, in his essay, “Metaphysics and Metafiction in ‘High Castle,’” observed that Dick’s endings (which privilege one reality over another) may fail to satisfy reader’s expectations because of their neatness: “The pressure of incipient paranoia in the Dickian world is so strong that the real temptation is not the easy solution, but the impossible one. Increasingly in his later fiction Dick turns to problems of false realities that admit of no moral or ontological resolution”
Hayles isn't giving Dick's early fiction (especially Time Out of Joint) enough credit. From my thesis:
"The fact that it is possible to see Gumm as growing both saner and more delusional at the end of the novel illustrates the strong connection between paranoia and narcissism that Freud noted in his famous case study of Daniel Paul Schreber and even earlier in his essay, “On Narcissism.” In Time Out of Joint, Gumm appears to be emerging from a delusional existence after discovering he lives in a recreation of a 1959 town, but all the evidence leading Gumm to think he’s not crazy suggests he may be an unreliable narrator in the throes of a pronounced paranoid psychosis."
In other words this novel, in my opinion, does not offer any ontological resolution to the reader versed in Freud's ideas about paranoia. What's more I've never read a PKD novel that mentioned Freud so many times.
Update: Observant reader Mark points out the uncanny resemblance of the Ace cover to this Delaney cover painted by Bekey: