AHRC

Visualising generic changes: San-Antonio in the Special Police and San-Antonio Series

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 San-Antonio in the Spécial Police Series (1950-1972, 79 titles)

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San-Antonio Series (1972-1999, 96 Titles) Continue reading

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“Weapons in the war of ideas” ? Armed Service Paperbacks & Crime Fiction

 

Simenon ASE

Georges Simenon, On the Danger Line, NY, Armed Services Editions,  No 21, 1943

American soldiers serving overseas during WWII were offered a rich selection of  compact paperbacks.   Destined to help them dodge the tedium of war, they were designed to fit in their pockets.   The Armed Services Editions  books were printed at a cost of 6 cents a volume and distributed for free from 1943 to 1947.  This is a landmark in the history of mass market reading. The mention on all but a handful of  the covers that “This is the Complete Book—Not a Digest” is a reminder that  paperbacks were at the time still new, and that readers had to be reassured that these were not abridged or condensed books. 123 million books were printed as part of this programme,  representing 1,227 different titles.  Only a minority of these titles were Crime Fiction. The purpose of the programme was educational as much as recreational. Continue reading

Spanish Gialli : The Coleccion Amarilla (Maucci)

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The success of Mondadori’s Gialli, Supergiallo and Gialli Economici series soon inspired imitators in Italy (Nerbini in Florence, with I romanzi del disco Giallo from 1940 to 1943  (53 vol published), or Garzani , Pagotto and Ponzoni) and it lead  to legal wrangles : can a publisher copyright a colour, in this case the colour yellow ? Certainly the colour was distinctive for Mondarori’s books, but could the publisher claim exclusive rights on it and prevent its competitor from using it?  A Spanish publisher, Maucci, in Barcelona, was more straightforward : he  acquired the rights of some of the books published as Gialli  by Mondadori, translating them  and others  into Spanish and publishing them there under the iconic yellow colour and with the unambiguous title : Coleccion Amarilla (yellow series). Italian authors of Gialli were translated there, and thus internationalised.  Also, the artwork on the Spanish covers reproduced or followed the  illustrations on the Italian covers. 51 novels were thus published between 1941 and 1951.

EQ Continue reading

Yellow covers in Spain : The Biblioteca Oro

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Sax Rohmer, El Diabolico Doctor (Biblioteca Oro, 35, 1935

It was not long before  a Spanish publisher introduced the  1920’s fashion of Yellow Crime Fiction booklets to Spain.  Only a few years after Mondadori in Italy,  the Barcelona publisher Molino proposed in 1933 (the year of the publishing house’s creation),  a series of Crime Fiction  pulps with yellow covers in its series Biblioteca Oro. Like the Italian series, this Spanish counterpart would become a landmark series, publishing the most representative authors in the genre.  The books were on average some 100 pages long and cost 0,90 cts.

 The first period of the series starts in 1933 and finishes in 1936, the year of the civil war.  In its original period, the series published 25 authors, accounting for 68 books (see list below).  The authors who saw the most of their books translated  in the series were Oppenheim (8), Martyn (7), Christie (6) and Van Dine (5).  Christie published there in that period the following books, whose translated title remain close to the original    (this was not always the case in French)  as can be see here : Continue reading

Early Crime Fiction Series around 1900

Jordan

With thanks to Philippe Aurousseau and courtesy of  oncle-archibald.BlogSpot

The 62 volumes of the adventures of  French Amateur Detective Marc Jordan were one of the earliest  French publisher’s series devoted to crime  fiction . The publisher was Ferenczi, whose publishing house would soon become a cornerstone of Popular Fiction in France.   From September 1907  readers could purchase every Tuesday, at a price of 25 centimes,  the last instalment in the Exploits surprenants du plus grand détective Français.  The following year (1908) the Éclair company, would release Nick Carter, le roi des detectives, the silent film directed by Victorin Jasset, highlighting the parallels between  Marc Jordan and the American detective Nick Carter. Nick Carter Detective Library had started in 1891. Street & Smith would then publish a magazine, Nick Carter Weekly, until 1915.  It was in some  respects  a template for Ferenczi’s Marc Jordan.

Each  issue  of Marc Jordan’s adventures consisted of 32 pages (22 x 27 cm). The covers were  illustrated  by painters and cartoonists  Edouard Yrondy  (1 to 42)  Hickx (43 to 46), Michel Ronceray (No. 47 to 52) and Marco (No. 53 in 62). Continue reading

Police & Cinema, 1920

Police et Cinéma

Marcel Priollet, Police et cinéma  éditions J.Ferenczi, 1920, booklet, 18 x 11 cm. ©BILIPO

The small booklet above, by  prolific popular author Marcel Priollet (1884– 1960)  was published  in 1920.  It formed part of the first (1916- 1923) “Le Roman policier” series  published by Ferenczi. This publisher  was  by then well on its way to become a household name in the history of French popular literature . This is an early example of the explicit use of the concept of “Roman policier” (detective novel) in order  to cach the attention of the readers. It is therefore an important indicator of the constitution of the  crime genre  as an autonomous, instantly recognizable entity  in that period.
This particular booklet also demonstrates the relationship  between popular literature and film.  By then the exchanges between the two media have taken a new direction: after the first world war,  it is cinema that will influence the detective story, rather than the reverse.

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. Continue reading

Maps on the Backs : Dell Books and the Cartography of Crime

 Hammett homicides Dell

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With thanks to Benoit Tadié

The crime scene map is a  feature commonly associated with  1920’s  Crime Fiction.  Detective novels of the Golden  Age tended to favour the spatial representation of  the mystery to be solved. The maps appended to the novels were data visualisations, as they presented the plot in one  easy (and appealing)  overview. Typically,   a locked room mystery, or a  secluded place mystery  (remote manor, island, lighthouse…) could handily be mapped on one page. Such cartographic paratexts not only accompanied the novel, but often preceding it,  they led into it. They were printed in the first pages of the volume, and at times on the cover itself,  inviting the reader to a symbolic and cognitive journey.  They  helped visualize the information relevant to the solution of the case presented in the book.  But at the same time, as they established a sense of location, they dematerialized it into a projection, and  an abstraction.  They became  thus metaphors of the detective novel as an intellectual construct. Imaginary, simplified spaces, stages for schematic problems, disconnected from referential realities.  This view was further corroborated by Chandler’s dichotomy, distinguishing between  the realistic, gritty, hard-boiled genre, which he and Hammett represented, and the delicate, but ultimately insubstantial, de-realized Mystery genre incarnated by Christie, Carr, Sayers and co.   Associated  with  golden age detective fiction,  maps would then paradoxically seem, from this point of view too,  to indicate less referential substance, rather than more. Continue reading

Exhibition: Cinéma premiers crimes (Paris, 17.4-2.8)

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The wonderful exhibition Cinema’s First Crimes curated by Matthieu Letourneux (Paris X), Alain Carou (BNF) and Catherine Cauchard (BILIPO) opens tomorrow in Paris at the Galerie des Bibliothèques.

The “Visualising European Crime Fiction” project collaborated with its organisers to create a promotional website to be found at the following address:

http://cinema-premiers-crimes.fr/indexEN.html

Here below an excerpt from the press kit:

Cinemas premiers crimes enables today’s audiences to feel the same shivers that rippled through spectators a hundred years ago.

Continue reading