(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
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
(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
In the last decades the astonishing speed in the global circulation of cultural works and the unprecedented opportunities to gather and analyse large amount of data through electronic resources have opened up new possibilities for researchers in all disciplines. At the same time, the spatial turn in the Humanities has prompted scholars to consider the benefits of using maps and graphs to investigate the transnational history of cultural phenomena. However, while scholars working on quite traditional literary subjects have been quick to discuss and carry out the provocative claims made by Franco Moretti in The Atlas of the European Novel (1998), an ideal case study for such an approach, i.e. popular fiction, had been largely neglected.
The AHRC-funded project Visualising European Crime Fiction: New Digital Tools and Approaches to the Study of the Transnational Popular Culture has represented a first attempt to adopt this approach in the field of crime fiction studies, starting to collect data from different sources and exploring the uses of an online database and various visualisation tools. This exploratory project in partnership with the Paris-based BILIPO aimed at testing a number of strategies and possibilities in order to envision a larger, longer-term initiative to conduct extensive studies on the transnational circulation of popular fiction at the European level. Researchers from a group of universities in the UK, France, Hungary, Sweden and the Czech Republic have collaborated to create sample datasets, the prototype database and a series of visualisations. Continue reading
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A simple wordcloud, when it displays hierarchically structured information, can tell instantly something both very significant and onerous to establish otherwise. One would have to browse through hundreds of bibliographical data and to sort them, before being able to discover what the cloud above suggests simply and immediatly.
The author who published the most books in the Penguin Crime Club, the famous British pocketbooks publisher’s subseries devoted to the classics of crime fiction, is actually not Agatha Christie, nor a member of the detection club, nor any British author. Neither is it one of the prolific American masters, such as Ellery Queen, or Erle Stanley Gardner. It is actually Georges Simenon, with 48 books published under the universally recognised green cover.
Starting in 1930, The Detection Club is more than just a literary society of authors, writing detective stories in English. Its founding members, Agatha Christie, Anthony Berkeley, Dorothy L. Sayers, Freeman Wills Crofts and many others all had an immense influence on the perception, establishment and dissemination of the Crime Genre worldwide. Continue reading
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The proportional Word cloud above shows the influence of British authors in Italy. It is based on the numbers of their books published in Italian translation in the leading Giallo Mondadori Series, which was launched in 1929. Continue reading
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The picture above is based on the total of books published by each of the authors who contributed to the legendary “Spécial Police” Series. Launched in 1949 it helped turning its publishing house, Fleuve Noir, into France’s most successful popular literature publisher. When it stopped, in 1987 it had published generations of new authors. The biggest names on the words representation above are the biggest contributors. Georges J. Arnaud, Mario Ropp (aka Maïa Devillers), Peter Randa (aka André Duquesne), Adam Saint Moore (aka Jacques Douyau) and of course San-Antonio (aka Frédéric Dard) feature here prominently. But many important names in the history of French Noir, as well as those of well-liked, prolific authors can be found here too. André Helena, Léo Malet, Serge Laforest, Jean Mazarin, Roger Vilard, M.G. Braun (aka Maurice-Gabriel Brault), André Lay and many more.
This words-Viz is based on the titles of the first books published in France, in the Series “Le Masque”, from 1927. Most books were translated from the English language, as the publisher claimed (somewhat disingenuously), that there were not enough Crime Fiction Writers in France at the time. Continue reading
The question this post tries to answer visually is twofold, and runs as follows. Is it possible, first, to visualise the denotations and connotations carried in the titles of crime Fiction series ? What are the words most frequently used ? And what are the emotions, atmospheres and tropes suggested already by the titles, on the threshold of the books ? What are the most common elements forming part of the contractual promise contained in a title ? Which ones seem to be recurring the most often? And second, do such patterns vary from series to series, reinforcing their distinctive identities? Can one, after listing the literal meanings of the words most frequently used in their titles, and the emotions associated with them, determine the series’ s profiles ? In practice, is it for example possible to compare the three longest French Crime Fictions series (totaling almost 7000 books between them), based only on the words most used in their titles ? Can one try to “profile” Crime series, on the basis of the terms through which the authors, and the series’ s editors choose to market the books ? And which are the words which are more apt at representing each of the three series? The three following pie charts reflect the frequencies of six heavily connoted and intuitively chosen words for each of the three series. Continue reading