Fantômas

Early French Crime Fiction in America

 

FantomasusPierre 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

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A visit to the morgue

By Loïc Artiaga (translation Daniel Magennis)

 Mediapart_1B

Caption: [Postcard ‘Visite de Mimi à Paris’ (‘Mimi’s trip to Paris’), G. Gervais – editor]

The  ‘Forensics’ exhibition, which  has been showing in London in the Wellcome Library since February, is closing tomorrow. It presents what was one of the most popular attractions of the Belle Époque in Paris: the visit to the morgue. One hundred years ago, corpses which had been put on display in order to aid in their identification found themselves surrounded by curious onlookers seeking to satisfy macabre appetites. The current exhibition documents this historical attraction to the morbid. Its principal goal, however, lies elsewhere. It aims to show the progress of the understanding of death and, entering the modern era, the science applied to the process of solving crimes. A wealth of new knowledge, fed by the illusion that rationality could triumph over the basest of criminals and crimes, would be applied to the corpses laid out on mortuary slabs and, before long, would also be arrayed against what, or whom, put them there. Continue reading