07 March 2014

A Dozen Duddys

Who's the dishevelled kid with the map? Why it's Duddel, Max Kravitz's boy. You know him – he's Simcha's eynikl. At least that's how British illustrator Bernard Blatch imagined him on the jacket of the 1959 André Deutsch first edition of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Did Coca-Cola and 7 Up pay for product placement?

After Anne Shirley, I don't think there's a character in Canadian literature that has been drawn, painted, photographed and filmed quite so often as the lead in Richler's breakthrough work. And why not? Duddy is so large that Richler himself couldn't confine him to one novel.

Sixty-five years later, the Blatch cover remains the best, though I have a real soft spot for the 1964 British Penguin that belonged to my father.

Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964
The Brits do Duddy best, but their fellow Europeans fail. Just look at De Leejaren van Duddy Kravitz, the 2000 Dutch translation, which casts the boychick as a Weimar Germany cabaret performer.

Amsterdam: Muntinga, 2000
The German, Die Lehrjahre des Duddy Kravitz, places our hero somewhere in Europe, far from Montreal and the Laurentians.

Frankfurt: S. Fischer Verlag, 2007
We don't actually see Duddy on the cover of L'apprendistato di Duddy Kravitz, the Italian translation, but it would appear he's manning the cash at an American liquor store.

Milan: Adelphi, 2010
What follow are seven more also rans:

New York: Ballantine, 1974
Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974
Toronto: Penguin, 1987
Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1989
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart,  2001
Toronto: Penguin, 2005
New York: Paperback Library, 1964
"A writer of whom Canadians may be proud."
And I am!
Gee, thanks, Saturday Review.


  1. That Blatch cover is the bomb!

  2. The '87 Penguin makes it look like a YA novel and the '64 Paperback Library makes it look like a Harlequin romance, with Duddy looking all bulked up and being admired by the hot girl. Obviously they're going after different audiences. The '64 British Penguin borders on anti-Semitic with it's stereotypes. My favourites are the M&S 2001 and the Penguin 2005.They are artfully suggestive of the young man from the slums and the extent to which he'd go to realize his ambitions.