Mignon Good Eberhart (USA, 1899- 1996)
Crime Fiction is an international genre. It is well-known that several countries have collaborated to its invention. Exchanges and reciprocal influences between the US (Poe), France (Vidocq, Gaboriau) and England (Wilkie Collins, Conan Doyle), in particular, have been crucial in shaping it in the 19th Century. Publishers and Magazines have driven the translation of works of foreign crime fiction, creating international trends and reception patterns. Publishing industries, in the 20th Century have spread internationally. Successive fads for crime fiction from specific geographical areas have each contributed to defining the genre and to create subgenres. It is hence not only restrictive but methodologically debatable to envision Crime Fiction in a narrowly defined national manner. Seeing Crime Fiction as a transnational literary field is not only a theoretical literary issue or an issue for literary history. It is a question of methods and of research tools, too. And such an international approach faces many challenges. To begin with, it relies on data which has been generally harvested and stored in national repositories. Publishers catalogues often give a better vantage point for the study of transnational movements in Crime Fiction than institutional archives. The following visualisation gives an account of patterns of international exchanges as observed in four such catalogues.
1/ The Dominance of British Authors in Detective fiction series in France, from the interwar into the 1960’s : Le Masque
2/ British, American and local authors in the I Libri Gialli series (Milano, Mondadori, 1929- 1941)
There is a statistic predominance of British authors in the series, as the voyant word could above shows. But this is mainly down to the disproportionate output of two authors only : Edgar Wallace and Agatha Christie.
The picture reveals a very large predominance, in the I Libri Gialli series, of books translated from the English language (in grey, below). But the second picture below shows that the Americans are the most numerous in the Mondadori series. Already in the the first series (1929-1941) there are 7 US authors (in grey).The British authors, however (5) account for far more books.
3/ The replacement of British Authors with local and American Authors : The Series “Un Mystère” (Paris, Presses de la Cité, first series :1949-1966 )
4/ Postwar mutations and international convergences in the second Giallo Mondadori Series (1946-1952)