Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain, Fantômas , Marcel Brentano’s, 1915
The Circulation of French language crime fiction in America starts with Gaboriau, and before him Vidocq (whose Memoirs, first published in Paris 1828-1829 by Tenon, Libraire-Editeur, owe much to fiction, and in turn would influence Balzac and most of 19th Century writing on crime, and early crime novels). It is in America that Gaboriau’s L’affaire Lerouge, his first detective novel, published in Paris in 1866, first appeared in English translation (in the 1873 Boston Edition reproduced below). Continue reading
By Daniel Magennis, M.A. Candidate, Queen’s University, Belfast
Thrillers which take Troubles-era Ireland as their subject matter form a distinct genre in their own right. The Troubles Thriller, or Troubles Trash, as it is sometimes known, has become the primary form of literary representation of Northern Ireland and its benighted capital Belfast (which has itself been described as “the noirest city on earth”). While the novels might be didactically unremarkable and have done little to challenge the tabloid representations on offer, some met with considerable commercial success both within and outside of the English-speaking world.
(Dror Mishani, The Missing File, 2011)
By Stewart King, Monash University
Never read an Israeli crime novel? Inspector Avraham Avraham – the protagonist of three novels by Israeli author Dror Mishani – has a theory on why. Israel doesn’t “produce books like those of Agatha Christie, or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” because, he says, “we don’t have crimes like that. We don’t have serial killers; we don’t have kidnappings; and there aren’t many rapists out there attacking women on the streets.” Continue reading
Giannis Maris, Crime In Kolonaki, Pechlivanidis, 1955
By Nikos Filippaios (PhD candidate, University of Ioannina, Greece)
Crime fiction in Greece is characterized, on the one hand, by the strong influence of American and European classics and standards, and on the other by a constant search for a more localized expression. This initial reception of a new literary genre and its final assimilation is an idiosyncratic characteristic of Modern Greek culture, which was shaped by accepting both eastern and western influences. Thus, when crime fiction was introduced as a new genre to Greece, during the first decades of the 20th century, readers were already familiar with its main elements, because one of its precursors, the “roman feuilleton” (or serial) was very popular in Greece during the 19th century, as in other European countries. Continue reading
Maurice Leblanc, The Blonde Lady , New York, Doubleday, Page & Company (1928)
One of the most successful characters of French crime fiction worldwide, Arsène Lupin, was introduced to French readers in the July 1905 issue of the magazine Je sais tout. The story “L’Arrestation d’Arsène Lupin,” is somewhat paradoxically titled, considering that, far from stopping Lupin in his tracks, it became the first in a series comprising a total of 36 short stories and 19 novels. Arsène Lupin is introduced as he finds himself in the midst of a transatlantic journey, “five hundred miles from the French coast”. While this particular journey was thwarted by Lupin’s arrest, the books themselves fared better and Lupin’s adventures were soon translated into English, rapidly making their way across the Atlantic. The Exploits of Arsene Lupin were published in the same year in both France and in America (1907), the latter in a translation by Alexander Teixeira De Mattos (New York, Harper, 1907). Similarly, it took only a few months for the 1909 novelization of Leblanc and Francis de Croisset’s eponymous play to be published in New York, in October 1909. From then on, a succession of books by Le Blanc (sic) featuring Lupin took hold of the American market.
Maurice Leblanc, Arsène Lupin, New York, Doubleday, Page & Company, October 1909, illustration by H. Richard Boehm, translation by Edgar Jepson Continue reading
(Courtesy of Didier Poiret)
This is another of the Romans de la nuit published in Russia : L’Homme de l’avenue. This edition is from 1995.
With thanks to Didier Poiret
The two editions of this book (one published in 1992 and the other in 1994), a Russian translation of two novels by Frédéric Dard (Cette mort dont tu parlais & C’est toi le venin, both belonging to his “Romans de la nuit”) present some minute, and inexplicable differences. At first glance, it is not obvious, but the pose and the women lying are similar, yet different. Why ? Is the 1994 cover (picture on the left) deemed less aggressive, because of its less crude colours and because it features a slightly more clad woman than the one on the right (1992)? Even with not so subtle semiotic codes, there are subtle boundaries and differences in degrees.
(Images from Didier Poiret’s collections)
Peter Cheyney (1896-1951) was the first author published in the Série Noire, in 1945. Marcel Duhamel, the series’ director had translated two of his books during the war. His success in France got the Series off to a good start and many more of his novels were published as part of it. Nonetheless, the Série Noire fetishized noir novels and did not publish short stories. This is why the collection No ordinary Cheyney, translated as Du pas banal, by Jean Weil (Paris, 1949) was published with a different publisher, the newly created “Presses de la cité”, which was soon to become an arch-rival for Gallimard’s Série Noire. Duhamel’s dilemma was to either sacrifice his ideas for the series, and risk disorienting his readers; or strengthen a dynamic competitor with an author who was the international best seller of the time. That Duhamel chose the principles and the series’ unity might explain how he succedded in creating and maintaining such a distinctive and long lasting identity.
(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
Karim Miské won the 2012 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, France’s most prestigious award for Crime Fiction with Arab Jazz, his debut novel. Now released in the UK by Quercus, Arab Jazz, translated by Sam Gordon has won an English PEN award. Miské will present his book in the Crescents Art Centre on Tuesday, in partnership with No Alibis.
Here is a presentation of the author by his publisher :