International Detective Fiction (1927-1966): The Authors


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)

Gi WordItOut-word-cloud-739095


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.

Giallo pie

Giallo WordItOut-word-cloud-739132

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.

Giallo language pie_1772B3DEAmerican pie_1772B3DE

3/ The replacement of British Authors with local and American Authors :  The  Series “Un Mystère”  (Paris, Presses de la Cité, first series :1949-1966 )


Mystere Presses Cité

4/ Postwar mutations and international convergences  in the second Giallo Mondadori Series (1946-1952)

Giallo 46 gi46d-744000

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