Few Crime series, if any, have developed such mystique as the French Série Noire, launched 72 years ago by former surrealist Marcel Duhamel for the éditions Gallimard. While ostensibly dedicated to introducing american hardboiled writers, and to a significant extent their imitators from elsewhere, the series also published an increasing amount of French authors. A simple data viz shows the respective quantitative contribution of the twenty most prolific French writers in the Série Noire.
This is a list of the 120 titles published between 1982 and 1986 in the eclectic Spanish series Circulo del Crimen, by the Barcelona based publisher, Forum.
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The four graphs reproduced here represent Google Ngrams of the popularity of the title of pre-war novels by Agatha Christie in the Google books corpus for the period 1950-2000
Dr Stewart King, Monash University
The Catalan capital Barcelona is indisputably the crime fiction centre of Spain. Anglophone readers will no doubt be familiar with Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s Carvalho novels, a series of over twenty novels and short story collections published between 1974 and 2004 that charted Spain’s transition from a dictatorship to a democracy and beyond. A city’s or a country’s crime fiction credentials, however, do not rest on one writer alone. Other writers who may be familiar to anglophone readers are Eduardo Mendoza, Andreu Martín, Alicia Giménez Bartlett, Toni Hill, Teresa Solana, and Marc Pastor, among others. While these authors hail from or live in Barcelona, only Martín, Solana, and Pastor write in Catalan. Although less well known to English readers, there is nevertheless a strong, albeit at times uneven, tradition of crime fiction writing in Catalan.
The development of Catalan crime fiction has been shaped as much by politics as by literary concerns Continue reading
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
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Edgar Allan Poe (1 occurrence)
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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
Edgar Wallace (Greenwich, 1875- Beverly Hills, 1932) is probably one of the crime authors whose academic reappraisal stands to gain the most from the shift in methods and objects advocated in this blog. A sort of consensus has hitherto prevailed, consigning his books (famously written over amazingly brief, but sustained, periods of concentration) in the category of hastily churned out yarns. Successful, but ultimately forgettable. Mass market products of their time, which have now become less appealing, and promise little reward to the modern reader. This is certainly very unfair. One needs only to consider his books’ capacity to thrill all across the world to be inclined to revise such judgement. Or to reflect on the number of adaptations to the screen (more than 150, making him one of the world leading authors) his novels have received Continue reading