Series

French Authors in the Serie Negra Policial-Misterio

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The paperback Series  Colección Serie Negra Policial-Misterio (Black Series,  Police Mystery) was published in Barcelona by a consortium of publishers (Barral, Tusquets, Península & Laia) between 1972 and 1976. It consisted of 60 classics of crime fiction, from, among others Poe, McCoy, Chandler, and Ruth Rendell. While American crime fiction is very well represented, and English writers a little less so, it is interesting to note that French authors actually form majority in the series. They range from Balzac, to Gaboriau, to Manchette (La Lunática en el Castillo), Klotz, Kassak and Raf Vallet.

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Kââ: An Art of the Title

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Of all the authors in the later period of the famous Fleuve Noir Spécial Police Series, Kââ (Pascal Marignac, 1945-2002) is one of the most interesting. His noir novels are amongst the most literary and sophisticated published in this series. The books are no less brilliant than their titles suggest:

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Silhouettes de morts sous la lune blanche, Fleuve noir, Spécial Police no 1862, 1984 Continue reading

Rae Foley’s Hiram Potter and Chase’s Miss Blandish.

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American author Rae Foley’s (Elinore Denniston, 1900-1978) postwar series featuring the detective Hiram Potter was often described as an American counterpart to L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey. In a period when European authors were writing books imitating the American hardboiled genre, Rae Foley was writing, in America, books imitating British Golden Age mysteries. She can thus be seen as a symmetrical counterpart to Peter Cheyney, or James Hadley Chase. Together, Foley, Chase, and Cheyney show both sides of the postwar transatlantic exchange which helped to shape crime fiction. Foley’s success recalls that the exchanges worked both ways. Even at the heights of the noir era, British style mystery books continued to be in demand. And the circulation of Foley’s books in continental Europe blurred boundaries further, highlighting their openness to multiple cultural appropriations. Continue reading

Colección El Séptimo Círculo: The first 120 Titles

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(Click to enlarge)

The first 120 volumes in the  Seventh Circle (Septimo Circulo) series were selected by Borges and Bioy Casares, both practitioners and very well- informed observers of the crime genre and its developments since the 1930s. It is well known that the pair had previously co-written, under the pseudonym of Bustos Domeq the ultimate armchair detection classic, Six problems for Don Isidro Parodi, published in 1942. The Septimo Circulo series reflects their tastes (even though, unlike Borges, it favours novels over short stories) and views on crime fiction aesthetics. Given the global status and influence of Borges especially, the vision of a canon of international crime fiction which emerges from this selection is interesting. The visualisations below show which authors were published, between 1945 and 1954 in the series’s first 120 volumes, and highlight their relative importance there. Continue reading

Borges, Detective Fiction and Hell’s Seventh Circle

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For Carolina Miranda

Séptimo Círculo, The celebrated Argentinian crime fiction series, whose name is in reference to Dante (in the Divine comedy, violent criminals were thrown in hell’s seventh circle), was created in 1945 by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares. Its publisher was Emecé, in Buenos Aires. Over the course of four decades a total of 366 novels were published. British authors were the  majority, as they represented what Borges and Bioy Casares wanted to promote in the genre. Mysteries, puzzles, tales of logic and clues hidden behind surfaces of respectability were exactly what they thought would help to promote the genre itself, at a time when it was still not considered legitimate literature. Despite this symbolic Anglophilia, and Borges’s active dislike for hardboiled realism, some American classics made it into the selection, including noir authors, from Cain and Chandler, to William Irish. Almost entirely missing, by contrast, were French authors Continue reading

French Authors in the Circulo del Crimen Series

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Source : http://www.todocoleccion.net

Compared with other Spanish series, Circulo del Crimen from the 1980s seems to suggest a decrease in the influence of “French” crime fiction in Spain. Out of a series of 120 books, Boileau, Dard, Exbrayat,  Japrisot, Kassak, Leblanc, Le Breton and Simonin  are the only French language authors, and they feature with solely one book each. Simenon, the only other translated from the French in this series, has two. Ten out 120 is a poor return for one of the literary traditions in which the crime novel was co-invented (together with the USA and GB) and in a country like Spain, where cultural exchanges with France were frequent and long standing.

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Circulo del Crimen : A circular Dendogram

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The  Dendogram above represents all the authors published in the influential series Circulo del Crimen. This Spanish series (Forum) published between 1982 and 1986, tended as a rule to only publish one book by author, and only exceptionally two (Simenon, Ed Lacy, Himes) and in the sole cases of McBain and Irish three volumes. As a result, it offered a broad and excellent overview on the Crime genre, showcasing its most important authors (at least from England, the USA, and, to an extent, France), represented by some of their best work.

Whereabouts unknown

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Less celebrated than its model (and, in ways, polar opposite), Gallimard’s legendary “Série Noire”, the Fleuve Noir series “Spécial Police” was the most popular of all French crime fiction series. It sold hundreds of millions of books and published a total of 2075 novels. Jean Cocteau was among its admirers. It was, needless to say, largely ignored by critics, academic, literary or otherwise. The books tended to be available at train stations, newsagents, and supermarkets rather than in bookshops. You would not expect to find one in a library. Yet, the series was one of the great matrices of literary imagination in France during the second half of the 20th century. Launched in 1949, it continued to publish until 1987. The majority of its more than 300 authors were either French or francophone, save for one Russian, one (prolific) American, two Germans and a handful of other exceptions. It became an amazing pool of creative talent. How many hundreds more submitted manuscripts? In the twenty-eight years since the series ceased to exist, some of the authors who had been published there have fallen into the most complete obscurity. Very little is known about them, not even their names (many used pseudonyms) or what they did next – or even if they are still alive and writing. Who were and who knew André Goss, Michel Coulmer, Sanz Boto, Mike Cooper and J.M. Valente? Who met Thierry Bataille, and Susan Vialad (or the author publishing under her name), and who remembers them?

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André Goss, aka André Gossiaux, Repassez le suaire. Paris, Fleuve Noir, “Spécial Police” n°58 , 1954.

Illustration Michel Gourdon. Continue reading

Agatha Christie’s translations in Finland

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Images and bibliography courtesy of Ilari Haapasalo

Agatha Christie’s books have been translated into more than 100 languages.  The world’s bestselling author, she has sold, according to the Guinness Book of  Records, 2 billion copies of her mysteries. Initial sales were slow, however. The first edition of her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) sold 2 000 copies. Published six years later, her seventh book, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Collins, 1926) sold 5 000, and it would be more than 20 books and more than 15 years later before the first edition of her Three-Act Tragedy (1935)  would pass the mark of the 10 000.  The French translation of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was the first book in the famous and perennially successful “Le Masque” series, launched by the Librairie des Champs Elysées in 1927. There too, success came slowly. It took all of three years to sell 3000 copies.  In the same year, the same book was translated in Finland. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was actually published there under  three different titles and  by 3 different publishing houses : Odottamaton Ratkaisu (Satakunnan kirjateollisuus, 1927); Kello 9,10 (Otava, 1929) and Roger Acroydin murha (WSOY, 1959)

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Agatha Christie,  Odottamaton Ratkaisu (Satakunnan kirjateollisuus, 1927) Continue reading