Andrea Camilleri has died today, in Rome, aged 93. True internationalist and international crime fiction icon, world-famous for his charismatic detective, Sicilian Commissario Salvo Montalbano, but also known for his outspoken political consciousness, Camilleri is one of the most influential authors of crime fiction in Europe. Acknowledging inspirations such as Simenon, Sciascia and, of course, Montalbán, and with his own novels widely translated and adapted across the continent and beyond, he has come to represent the quintessential European Author. Here are a few obituaries from different European countries paying homage to his international legacy, selected from the great many published this morning all over the world.
(Raymond Chandler, Trouble Is My Business, Pocket Books 823, 1951 : Cover Art by Herman Geisen)
Compiling a list of chandlerisms is possibly not the most reverent way to assess how the golden age of Crime Fiction was perceived outside from the self-selected happy few of members in the famous “Detection club”. But it is certainly a fun way to start. Here are a few excerpts from Chandler’s seminal essay (1950) : “The Simple art of murder”.
Every detective story writer makes mistakes, and none will ever know as much as he should. Conan Doyle made mistakes which completely invalidated some of his stories, but he was a pioneer, and Sherlock Holmes after all is mostly an attitude and a few dozen lines of unforgettable dialogue.
The success of Mondadori’s Gialli, Supergiallo and Gialli Economici series soon inspired imitators in Italy (Nerbini in Florence, with I romanzi del disco Giallo from 1940 to 1943 (53 vol published), or Garzani , Pagotto and Ponzoni) and it lead to legal wrangles : can a publisher copyright a colour, in this case the colour yellow ? Certainly the colour was distinctive for Mondarori’s books, but could the publisher claim exclusive rights on it and prevent its competitor from using it? A Spanish publisher, Maucci, in Barcelona, was more straightforward : he acquired the rights of some of the books published as Gialli by Mondadori, translating them and others into Spanish and publishing them there under the iconic yellow colour and with the unambiguous title : Coleccion Amarilla (yellow series). Italian authors of Gialli were translated there, and thus internationalised. Also, the artwork on the Spanish covers reproduced or followed the illustrations on the Italian covers. 51 novels were thus published between 1941 and 1951.
The Ullstein Verlag, founded in Berlin in 1877, was one of the most active and successful agents on the market of entertainment publications in Germany. One year after Le Masque in France, and one year before Mondadori, in Italy, it too launched a series of yellow mass market Crime Fiction books : Ullstein Gelbe Reihe was started in 1928. 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
(click to enlarge)
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