Data Visualisation

What is San-Antonio all about ?

Sanatitles

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Does the  word cloud above  provide an answer to the question asked in the title of this post ? And is that of any use to anyone?  The cloud  is based on the titles from the 175 novels published in the crime series “The investigations of Commissaire San-Antonio”. Does is tell us something we did not know about San-Antonio ? And if we don’t know who San-Antonio is, or haven’t read his books does it help us forming a first impression? Does it allow us to find a way through his work?  But maybe what we are being told here is not so much something about San-Antonio, but  about distant reading. How do you go about with the material which raw (or refined) data gives you? How do you start building a narrative, and research questions around it? Continue reading

Maps of Contempt

POe1

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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

A Wordcloud History of early Crime Fiction

 Poe Morgue

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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

Crime Fiction in Ullstein Pocket Books

Servais Lorac Kane

Created in the early 1950’s, the series of mass market paperback books Ullstein-Büchern,  started  in the mid 1950’s to offer a  subdivision devoted to Crime Fiction, the Ullstein-Bücher Kriminalromane. This series had  different numbers than the rest of the Ullstein- books, to differentiate them from the general series (Allgemeine Reihe). It started at number  701.  Further differentiation, the big K on the title banner stands for Krimi. This is the mid and late 1950’s, and American authors are now predominant, in stark contrast to the original Ullstein Gelbe Reihe in the late 1920’s and 1930’s.  A canonisation of the noir genre has happened elsewhere, and Ullstein books reflect this.  The two first books published  as Ullstein-Bücher Kriminalromane are  Hammett (Der Malteser Falke) and Chandler (Einer weisst mehr). Hammett’s Bluternte is the sixth volume in the series. Continue reading

Translating Crime Fiction between the Wars

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(French Translators for Le Masque Series : click to enlarge)

Studying Crime Fiction Series in their cohesion and complexity, rather than works and authors for their originality, presents a radical departure from the type of literary work traditionally done in academia.  Compared with close reading and textual analysis, this seems a more appropriate way to approach the conditions of production of a material culture, and hence, to better understand Crime Fiction. It takes the  observer away from the ideology sacralising the unique and  celebrating the individual, and promotes  the discovery of the collective and relational nature of what we call literature.  It also requires different tools and poses different research questions.  The shift in  focus helps revealing   a series of phenomena and circumstances, as well as an entire population of agents usually falling under the radar of literary research. Such  is the case of the fascinating, yet totally under-researched subject of translators of crime fiction. Continue reading

International Detective Fiction (1927-1966): The Authors

1/EberhartMignonG

Mignon Good Eberhart (USA, 1899- 1996)

Crime Fiction is an international genre. It is well-known that several countries have collaborated to its invention. Exchanges  and reciprocal influences between the US (Poe), France (Vidocq, Gaboriau) and England (Wilkie Collins, Conan Doyle), in particular, have been crucial in shaping it in the 19th Century.  Publishers and Magazines have driven the translation of works of  foreign crime fiction, creating international trends and reception patterns.  Publishing industries, in the 20th Century have spread internationally. Continue reading

Punctuating Crime Fiction: a Comparison of 6886 Titles

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 (Total number  of titles with exclamation marks, by series)

The following pie charts represent the  varied use of three types of punctuation signs in the titles of  all the novels published in the three longest series of Crime Fiction in France : Le Masque (Librairie des Champs-Elysées), La Série Noire (Gallimard), and Spécial-Police (Fleuve Noir).  While the amount of books published in all three series is roughly comparable (all three series have published more than 2000 books each), there are manifest discrepancies in their use of punctuation marks. Continue reading