Big Data

New Approaches to Studying Crime Narratives

 

Tampere
One-day Symposium: “New Approaches to Studying Crime Narratives”
 
October 14, 2016
University of Tampere, Finland
 
First Call for Papers
 
We invite proposals for paper presentations on new approaches to studying crime narratives. We want to encourage participants to introduce and discuss new methodological and theoretical perspectives on how to study literary, televisual and filmic crime narratives, and also to consider recent developments in the field of crime writing itself. The symposium understands crime narratives in a wide sense, as ranging from detective fiction, spy stories, and thrillers to true crime. The symposium also welcomes proposals focusing on crime narratives from various language areas and cultural spheres. We would like to welcome proposals which address the following topics (however, the list is by no means exhaustive):

Continue reading

Advertisements

Crime Fiction in Catalan: 1 The Origins

 

Ara30cts

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.

Solanas

The development of Catalan crime fiction has been shaped as much by politics as by literary concerns Continue reading

Yellow covers in Spain : The Biblioteca Oro

Fu

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

Maps of Contempt

POe1

(Click to enlarge)

Edgar Allan Poe (1 occurrence)

Le Monde ‘s Data Visualisation team (Luc Bronner & Maxime Vaudano)  have produced a fascinating and revealing interactive map of French Schools names ( http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2015/04/18/l-ecole-francaise-prefere-saint-exupery-a-voltaire_4617519_4355770.htm)
Based on publicly accessible data and the names of 67105 French Schools (public and private, and at all levels) it shows, without surprise, that many of these schools (some of them 200 years old) chose the name of a writer. But there are great disparities between writers, and the data tells about the omission of Crime fiction authors. It indicates an apparent stigma attached to this specific type of authorship, as Crime authors fare considerably less well than other, even much lesser known authors.  Edgar Poe, admitttedly not a French author is named only once. Gaboriau, the author of the first crime novel, zero.  Victor Hugo, by contrast (who invented with his inspector Javert a very memorable policeman, but  definitely not considered a crime author) had his name chosen by 365 schools.    It is more than surprising that some of the most read, most popular and internationally famous French authors (such as Gaston Leroux, the author of the Phantom of the Opera) don’t seem to have been deemed worthy of such distinction. When will a French school be named after  him, one of France’s more gifted writers? Or after Eugène Sue, or Frédéric Dard ?

Continue reading

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

 Hammett homicides Dell

(Click to enlarge)

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 and the Global Thriller

4justposter Walpic

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

A Wordcloud History of early Crime Fiction

 Poe Morgue

(click to enlarge)

Edgar Allan POE (1809-1849)  The Murders in the Rue Morgue (Graham’s Magazine, Philadelphia, 1841)

Total of 13,724 words and 2,847 unique words. Most frequent words in the corpus: voice (42), said (35), Dupin(27), house (26), head (24).

Affaire Lerouge

Emile GABORIAU (1836-1873) L’Affaire Lerouge (Le Pays, 1863;   Paris, Dentu, 1866; The Widow Lerouge, 1873)

Total of 123,867 words and 8,792 unique words. Most frequent words in the corpus: said (450), old (443), Sir(351), Noel (311), man (288).

orcival

Emile GABORIAU (1836-1873) Le Crime d’Orcival (1867), The Mystery of Orcival

 Total of 103,639 words and 8,452 unique words. Most frequent words in the corpus: said (532), Lecoq (322), Plantat (307), man (252), know (230) Continue reading