Leblanc

Arsène Lupin in America

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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.

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Maurice Leblanc, Arsène Lupin, New York, Doubleday, Page & Company, October 1909, illustration by  H. Richard Boehm, translation by Edgar Jepson Continue reading

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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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Yellow Cover Series in Argentina: Editorial Tor (Buenos Aires)

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Georges Simenon, Maigret in Nueva York,  Buenos Aires,  Editorial TOR, Serie Amarilla. Policial, aventura y misterio, 1952

In the 1940s and 50s, the Argentinian publisher Editorial Tor brought out a large number of international crime fiction books under a distinctive yellow cover. Printed in 12x17cm paperback format, these books acknowledged both  the standardisation of Crime Fiction books and the canonisation of an international group of authors, from Doyle and Leblanc, to Sax Rohmer and Simenon as the most representative of the genre and its subgenres Continue reading

Maps of Contempt

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(Click to enlarge)

Edgar Allan Poe (1 occurrence)

Le Monde ‘s Data Visualisation team (Luc Bronner & Maxime Vaudano)  have produced a fascinating and revealing interactive map of French Schools names ( http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2015/04/18/l-ecole-francaise-prefere-saint-exupery-a-voltaire_4617519_4355770.htm)
Based on publicly accessible data and the names of 67105 French Schools (public and private, and at all levels) it shows, without surprise, that many of these schools (some of them 200 years old) chose the name of a writer. But there are great disparities between writers, and the data tells about the omission of Crime fiction authors. It indicates an apparent stigma attached to this specific type of authorship, as Crime authors fare considerably less well than other, even much lesser known authors.  Edgar Poe, admitttedly not a French author is named only once. Gaboriau, the author of the first crime novel, zero.  Victor Hugo, by contrast (who invented with his inspector Javert a very memorable policeman, but  definitely not considered a crime author) had his name chosen by 365 schools.    It is more than surprising that some of the most read, most popular and internationally famous French authors (such as Gaston Leroux, the author of the Phantom of the Opera) don’t seem to have been deemed worthy of such distinction. When will a French school be named after  him, one of France’s more gifted writers? Or after Eugène Sue, or Frédéric Dard ?

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A Wordcloud History of early Crime Fiction

 Poe Morgue

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Edgar Allan POE (1809-1849)  The Murders in the Rue Morgue (Graham’s Magazine, Philadelphia, 1841)

Total of 13,724 words and 2,847 unique words. Most frequent words in the corpus: voice (42), said (35), Dupin(27), house (26), head (24).

Affaire Lerouge

Emile GABORIAU (1836-1873) L’Affaire Lerouge (Le Pays, 1863;   Paris, Dentu, 1866; The Widow Lerouge, 1873)

Total of 123,867 words and 8,792 unique words. Most frequent words in the corpus: said (450), old (443), Sir(351), Noel (311), man (288).

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Emile GABORIAU (1836-1873) Le Crime d’Orcival (1867), The Mystery of Orcival

 Total of 103,639 words and 8,452 unique words. Most frequent words in the corpus: said (532), Lecoq (322), Plantat (307), man (252), know (230) Continue reading

Question Marks over Crime Fiction

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(With thanks to Philippe Aurousseau, & Courtesy of Oncle-Archibald.blogspot.fr)

Aptly and obviously for a genre identified with the resolution of an enigma, Detective novels have often been marketed  with big interrogation marks on their covers.  One of the earliest Crime Fiction Series, Ferenczi’s  booklets “Le petit roman policier”  was recognizable for the question mark adorning its covers designed by Gil Baer.

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Later, two well-known French Crime Fiction series at least were named “The Question Mark”.

1/ The Editions Pierre Laffitte’s series “Le Point d’interrogation” was published in Paris from 1932 and until 1937. This series was devoted almost entirely to Gaston Leroux and Maurice Leblanc.

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2/ The Hachette Series “Le Point d’Interrogation”  was published between 1951 and 1965.

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Hachette

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Countless more  series and stand alone crime fiction books used visual references to question marks. If you know about such series or book covers from your own countries and in any languages, please let us know about them !

Leroux Laffite

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