Circulation

Transatlantic Fiction made in France

JDW collection Noire

 

Imprimerie du Livre, Colombes, December 1951, Cover Art by Jef de Wulf. ( From Didier Poiret’s collections)  

Troughout the late 1940s and early 1950s many French publishers saw a business opportunity in trying to replicate the success of Gallimard’s iconic Série Noire, launched in 1945 by former Surrealist Marcel Duhamel.  The short-lived Collection noire franco-américaine, published by the Editions du Globe (and from 1952 by Editions du Trotteur) between 1950 and 1953, is one such venture. It is also one of the more striking as it invested in quality rather than merely aiming at supplying readers with a cheap ersatz.

The Collection Noire, like the Série Noire reflected the success of  American noir films in post-war France, as well as French curiosity for American Hard-boiled novels. While the Série Noire was largely responsible for instilling a taste for American noir in France, the editions du Globe, with their Collection Noire, sought to capitalise on this emerging market. Unlike the Série Noire, who had by then already published  American authors such as Chandler, Hammett, McCoy, Finnegan, Tracy, Cain (both Paul and James) and Latimer, the Collection Noire had no American talent to back up its “franco-américaine” credentials. Without exception, all authors were French.  The pseudonyms they adopted were often meant to sound American, and their novels were supposed to recall, in both style and theme, not to mention through their violent and bleak outlook, the authors popularised by the Série Noire.  The Collection Noire franco-americaine was not content to simply recall the Série Noire in name and for the colour scheme (namely the trademark black and yellow combination of the Série Noire). From 1951, it called upon some of the best illustrators in the trade (René Brantonne, Jef de Wulf,  Mik, Salva, among others) and in doing so departed from the beautiful austerity of the imageless Série Noire covers.

 

JDW Collection Noire1

 

While the Série Noire, at least until 1953, would show the utmost reluctance for publishing French authors, the Collection Noire featured established French writers, many of who had already published in the crime genre, and even won awards. One such author is André Helena, a true pioneer of the French noir genre and one its the best. Deemed unsuitable for publication in the Série Noire, his novel Les filles me perdront was published in 1953, the 20th volume in the Collection Noire series. Another is Joseph-Louis Sanciaume, born in 1903 and already the author of dozens of detective novels, who was awarded the 1947 Action Novel award for  Sinistre turbin ! (Collection noire, Volume 2, 1952, Illustrated by Brantonne) .

Another, Claude Ferny (aka Pierre Marchand, b. 1906), had only published a handful of crime novels (in the Series La Cagoule), before joining the ranks of the Collection Noire, with whom he went on to publish several novels, more than any other author. He would subsequently go on to write some thirty crime novels elsewhere.

Tellingly, the Collection Noire published the first Frenchman to be published in the Série Noire, Serge-Marie Arcouët (b. 1916), using in both cases the same pseudo-Aamerican pseudonym, Terry Stewart. His novel C’est dans la poche was published in the Collection Noire in 1952, with an illustration by Salva.

The  Collection Noire franco-américaine’s Cover Art can be admired at :

http://oncle-archibald.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Editions%20le%20Trotteur%20-%20Collection%20noire%20franco-am%C3%A9ricaine

http://www.papy-dulaut.com/article-la-collection-noire-franco-americaine-aux-editions-du-globe-et-aux-editions-le-trotteur-54095914.html

 

 

Club Del Misterio, Barcelona

Bruguera

The Club del Misterio Series (early to mid-1980’s) predates the Etiqueta Negra Series (mid- 1980’s to mid-1990)Both Series are devoted to Crime Fiction. Both  have appeared post-Franco, and in a cultural context profoundly changed by the Movida. Both have published around 150 books of international Crime Fiction, the majority of them considered classics of the genre. While  Etiqueta Negra is a series launched by a Madrid publisher, Jucar, Club del Misterio belongs to a Barcelona-based publisher,  Bruguera.

Chandler

But the most striking difference is their respective scope. The Madrid publisher puts the emphasis on selection and distinction. There are fewer authors, representing fewer countries, and a distinctive branch within the crime genre, the noir novel. On the contrary, the Barcelona series favours diversity : different subgenres, different authors, different countries.  It is remarkable that the author most published in this series is Italian (Scerbanenco). Rather than American (or Spanish as is at the time the pattern elsewhere, when only local authors seem capable of resisting the American -and to an extent English- dominance). Continue reading

A German “Série Noire”

Fatale

The iconic Série Noire, created in Paris in the summer of 1945,  by  surrealist Marcel Duhamel in order to publish American hardboiled authors, celebrates this year its 70th Birthday.  This is an occasion to look at the influence it had abroad, and beyond America, where it helped defining the noir genre. Continue reading

Heralding the hero, placing the product

Paquet
Strategies of Self-advertising abound in the San-Antonio Series. There are many visual and textual ways in which the eponymous hero is announced, and promoted. This  integration of the product-name works especially as San-Antonio, the author, doubles as San-Antonio, the character. It is as if Chandler novels were signed Marlowe, or Spillane’s, Mike Hammer. As a result, the cover can be the site of a repetition, the repeated name promoting both an author and a text. Like for  a commercial advertisement, there is no fear of echoes and  redundancy of the message. On the contrary, the reiteration of the name reinforces its capacity to influence.

Polka Gones Beru

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Detection Series in France in the 1920’s

International Crime Fiction Research Group

Messac

In France, the 1920’s saw  a decisive evolution in the critical recognition of the crime genre (with, notably, the 1929 publication of Régis Messac’s thesis on the detective novel)  and in the organisation of the publishing industry towards the promotion of crime fiction. The most notable series created at the time was certainly the perennial “Le Masque”. It was by no means the only significant one.  Neither was it the first. Here are a few landmarks

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Which San-Antonio books should you read ?

CVT_Berurier-au-serail_5563

San-Antonio, Bérurier au Sérail, Paris, Fleuve Noir, 1964

In a Series totalling 175 novels, it is understandably difficult to locate, or even to remember, in which country each adventure is set. Even if one discounts some 70 novels where the action is set in France, in many others the characters travel to several foreign countries, rather than just one. This adds to the variety of settings in San-Antonio’s adventures, but  it renders any orientation even more difficult.  To provide such an orientation, the following  list serves as a simplified database. It  links the countries most visited by San-Antonio with the  title of the books in which  each country is  visited. This might come handy especially if you are considering putting a proposal to the San-Antonio International Conference in Belfast in May…   Continue reading

CFP : San-Antonio International Representations, Circulation, Translation and Exchanges

San-Antonio  International

15-16 May 2015

 

En avant

Representations, Circulation, Translation and Exchanges

ICRH, Queen’s University, Belfast

 

Contributions are invited to the San-Antonio International : Representations, Circulation, Translation and exchanges conference, organised by the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities at Queen’s University, Belfast (15 – 16 May, 2015) Continue reading