A book review by Jonas Rohe, Queen’s University Belfast
Fredéric Dard – The Gravediggers’s Bread (translated by Melanie Florence), Pushkin Vertigo, 28/06/2018. Original title Le pain des fossoyeurs, 1956.
Then I went and sold the butcher a stupendous coffin lined with silk, which would have made someone who loved comfort positively want to die! (P. 145)
Blaise Delange is down on his luck. Without a job or money, he finds himself in a small town in the French countryside far from his home in Paris. The only thing keeping him from leaving this miserable nest is a mysterious blonde woman, whose bulging purse he finds on the ground. Fascinated by this unknown beauty, he discovers that she is in fact the local undertaker’s wife, and proceeds to return her lost possessions. Impressed by his apparent honesty, the undertaker offers him a job as his assistant. Even though Delange has neither the interest for nor any experience in the gravedigger’s trade, his desperate financial situation and growing interest in the undertaker’s young wife mean he accepts. Continue reading
A review by Daniel Magennis, PhD Student at Queen’s University Belfast.
Chers lecteurs … Prenez garde : vous avez bu le seul poison qu’il est impossible de recracher. Les images et les idées que j’ai semées dans vos têtes feront leur chemin, à votre insu. Elles vous investissent sournoisement. Vous ne leur échapperez pas. Vous êtes infectés. [p. 235] Continue reading
Jean Carzou, L’Apocalypse, 1959
The best-selling San-Antonio series (1949-2000), with millions of copies sold over the course of five decades, represents one of the most enduring and successful legacies of Noir literature in France Continue reading
The Man in the Shadows, Grosset & Dunlap, 1928 (1930s reprint)
Carroll John Daly is the inventor of noir, having written a series of hardboiled stories even before Dashiell Hammett. He created the first Black Mask P.I, Race Williams, before Hammett’s Continental Op (both character debuted in 1923). He was the most popular pulp magazine author and it was said that the sole mention of his name on their covers meant a 15% increase in sales. After the war, Mickey Spillane, whose success with Mike Hammer far surpassed Daly’s, would acknowledge his debt to him; Daly’s was “the first and only style of writing” that influenced him in any way. Despite all this, Daly is now largely forgotten. His books were rarely translated, and are no longer read. Yet, his output was not contained to writing stories for pulp magazines, with 11 hardback crime novels published between 1926 and 1937. Continue reading
Whit Harrison (Harry Whittington), “Swamp Kill”, Phantom Books 508, 1952
“Setting the Scene”: Representations of Rurality in Crime Fiction and Media Culture, ICRH, Queen’s University, Belfast 15-16 June 2015
Professor Benoit Tadié (University of Rennes) “Desperadoes and Backwoods Teasers: the Resilience of Rural Noir in Postwar America
Professor Paul Cloke (University of Exeter) “Imaginative Geographies and the Production of Rural Space”
Professor Rob Kitchin (NUIM), ‘Place, Landscape and Rurality in Crime Fiction’
Brian McGilloway & Anthony Quinn, interviewed by Andrew Pepper : ‘Rurality and rural landscapes in Irish Crime Fiction’, Monday 15th, 6: 30, No Alibis Bookstore, on Botanic Avenue
The full programme for our conference is now live, and can be accessed at:
Oedipe roi, adapted by Didier Lamaison, Série noire, 2355, Gallimard, 2004
The Classical Tragedy is the matrix of the noir novel. Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is the mother (!) of all tragedies. Gallimard’s Série Noire is the most iconic of the series devoted to the noir genre. It thus seemed almost unavoidable that the Série Noire would publish a novelisation of Œdipe roi as a roman noir. Not only is it the story of an investigation centred on a crime, and on an enigma, but the tragic plot of the devastating fall of a flawed hero, at the hands of both a malevolent fate and his blind ambition, has profound echoes in the noir genre. From his arrival in a city plagued by fear and division (like in Hammett’s “Poisonville”) to his social elevation, followed by the discovery that he is himself the culprit, to the intertwined dimensions of the collective (public unrest, civic duties, public office) and the private (anxieties, name, secret, genealogy, sex) such echoes abound. In all these situations (and to say nothing in particular about the role of transgression, violence, horror and mutilation) tragedy is revealed as a classic form of noir, just as noir appears as a modern expression of tragedy.
What might, however, sound slightly more surprising is that this novelisation, “adapted from the myth” has become, 25 centuries after the original creation, one of the best-sellers in the Série Noire. It has had various re-editions. One of them was published together with a new traduction of the original tragedy. Continue reading
Knight, A Snake within my Circle, XLIBRIS, 2014
The construction of a bibliography based on a database always requires a methodological reflection on the scope, parameters, terms categories and definition used. It is an incentive not only to compare various sources from which open access metadata can be harvested, but, to probe, too, their competing objectives and rationale. By cross referencing multiple resources, a better insight into taxonomies can emerge. The problematic inscription of works into genres becomes apparent.
This understanding of the construction of the research object and of the limitations of the tools available is the precondition to any meaningful use of a database. For example, just compare the following results (harvested, using Zotero from a bookseller online catalog) to the elements of a database generated on the basis of (French) of two types of public records from a specialized library .
Harry Crews, A Feast of Snakes (1976) Fench Edition, Paperback, 1998
The Database being developed as part of the AHRC funded project Visualising Crime Fiction and in collaboration with the BILIPO will allow to compile comprehensive bibliographies on Crime Fiction. It should enable researchers to find quickly a wealth of reference to primary texts ( mainly international crime novels) dealing with any subject. For example, snakes. Given the noir genre historical links with puritanism, its fascination with evil and its continued affinity with a range of motives and archetypes from the Bible religions, it is not surprising that an infestation of snakes should be crawling and proliferating in the pages of many novels pertaining to the genre.But how to find them ? And how can one constitute a reliable and representative corpus of international Crime novels representing snakes ? Here is a list of novels belonging to crime fiction or any of its subgenres and featuring snakes, playing with their connotations, or using them as metaphor and signifier : (for example, there are no snakes in DOA’s Le Serpent aux milles coupures, which refers to the name of an infamous Chinese torture, but there is one on the book’s cover)