The International Crime Fiction Research Group is glad to present a new online exhibition hosted on the Omeka-based online database “Visualising Crime Fiction,” sponsored by the AHRC (the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council) and the Universities of Belfast, Limoges, and Debrecen, in partnership with the Bilipo. A Brief History of Crime Fiction in Greece was authored by Nikos Filippaios, currently a PhD student at the University of Ioannina, and provides a concise outline of the development of the genre in Greece, with particular attention to the impact of international crime fiction on the local creative industries.
Filippaios starts his overview by stressing the success of the earliest translations of modern popular fiction that arrived from Western Europe in the second half of the 19th century. He then highlights the key transformations of crime narratives in Greece throughout the 20th century, particularly up to the 1980’s, when a new generation of local writers started to use the genre to investigate the troubled national history during the post-war era.
The exhibition is structured in four sections, each dealing with a specific historical moment:
- The early period from the late 19th century to the 1930’s. This phase was characterized by the influence of classical (i.e. French and Anglo-Saxon) detective fiction and the introduction to the local market of new publishing formats, such as the dime novel, which were imported from the United States at the beginning of the new century.
- The 1950’s and 1960’s. These two decades were crucial for the development of the genre, and for the history of popular culture in Greece in general, as the translation of American fiction and comics had a strong impact on the local market and deeply influenced the work the first important Greek authors, such as Giannis Maris. The 1960’s, in particular, witnessed a flourishing of new series and periodicals offering a great variety of national and international crime narratives addressed to a more diverse public, including the emerging urban middle class and a new generation of young readers.
- The 1970’s. While Filippaios emphasises that the scarcity of information available on this decade makes a rigorous scholarly assessment difficult, it would be hard to underestimate the importance of this period for the modernization of crime fiction in Greece, and of Greek popular culture as a whole. In particular, popular fiction and cinema play a role in the cultural liberation of the 1970’s by contributing to more explicit representations of violence and sex, a phenomenon that is most apparent when looking at the covers of the crime novels published at this time.
- From the 1980’s to the present day. The last section highlights the increasing cultural legitimization of the genre, resulting in a transformation of its forms and contents. On the one hand, local writers embrace crime fiction as a respectable literary practice and utilize it to express their social and political views. On the other hand, the publishing industry acknowledges the historical and cultural value of this tradition, presenting classic and modern works of crime fiction in more and more sophisticated and prestigious editions.
In addition to Fillippaios’s introductory texts, the exhibition consists of a collection of images showing the richness and multiplicity of this long but still largely unknown and under-appreciated history, providing almost 140 scans of book covers that span an entire century.
To see the full exhibition, follow the link : A Brief History of Crime Fiction in Greece
Here are a few examples of the images included in the exhibition’s galleries: