The other life of French Crime Fiction Authors in Portugal

  Groc Torres

Léon Groc (1882-1956), O Segredo da Praça Maldita (La Place maudite, Le Lynx, 1941),  Lisboa, 1947

The International Circulation of Cultural Works operates like a magnetic field. Forces interact, currents drive materials in different directions, at different speed, in various magnitudes. Such effects can be observed in the reception  of French Crime Fiction authors, between the 1930’s and 1960’s, in countries like Spain, Italy and Portugal. In these countries, a secular tradition of French cultural influence offered an outlet to a French production which was at this point in time experiencing a severe  competition from the English and American markets.  There had been a  Golden Age  in French language Crime Fiction too (Simenon, Steeman, Véry, Decrest, Boileau, Nord, Vindry and others…) but it was, in most countries, overshadowed by the success of English language Golden Age crime fiction. Even on the French literary field the successful import of the Detection Club authors created  a tough competition for French authors in the thirties.  After the war, the Noir vogue would even engineered a  process of eviction of new, American or American sounding authors.

By comparison some Portuguese Crime Fiction series, such as Os Melhores Romance Policiais,  or the Colecção mascara (see below) which reproduced the name and the Logo of the French Series Le Masque, were hospitable to French authors.   At a time when  a French Series such as La Cagoule was priding itself  for still publishing  Crime authors from France  (see Endrèbe’s remark (1950), reproduced  below, on this singularity and the  “courage” needed from publishers  for them to publish French authors)

Cagoule Endrèbe

(Click to enlarge)

Evidently, all the French books published in Portuguese were nor first rate, and most of them are now out of print,  and not read in France anymore. On the  other hands, some are classics and deserve to be read again.


 René Guillot (1900-1969), A Tripulação de Peter Hill (Les Équipages de Peter Hill), Colecção Os Melhores Romances Policiais, Volume 72,  Livraria Clássica Editora,  1948


Igor Maslowski, Panico No Juri, Lisboa, Colecção Escaravelho de Ouro, 8, 1952


Le jury avait soif, Paris, La Bruyère, La Cagoule no 72, 1950

Steeman oro

Stanislas-André Steeman (1908-1970), Três Igual A Um (L’Assassin Habite au 21, 1939); transl. Adolfo Casais Monteiro, Lisboa,  Colecção Escaravelho de Ouro, vol 1, 1950 : Cover,  Roberto Araújo (1908-1969)

Steeman Mascara

Stanislas-André Steeman, O Dedo Roubado,  Mascara,  Lisboa, 1953


Arthur Bernède, O fantasma do Louvre, Lisboa, 1947


H. J. Magog, Um rapto na estrada de La Corniche, Lisboa, 1947


Géo Duvic, Uma Janela na escuridão,  Lisboa, 1947

Duvic 1

Géo Duvic, O Estrangulador Invisível, Lisboa, 1947

Damar   MarcelDamar
Marcel Damar, Procura Se a cabeça dum homen, Lisboa, 1947

Marcel Damar, O Ladrão voltou de madrugada, Lisboa, 1947


J. Joseph Renaud, O enigma do quadrado vermelho, Lisboa, 1947


Jean Normand, A mascara que mata, Lisboa, 1947


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