Whittington

Paperbacks Femmes fatales : Legends of fearsome agency and terrifying sexual power

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Raymond Armstrong, The Sinister Widow, J. Long (1951)

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Marriage Noir, illustrated

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In the same way as Film Noir represents the “dark side of the screen”, the noir novel, a 20th century heir to Emile Zola’s naturalism, offers a dark brand of literary realism. Where noir cinema is the nightmare to Hollywood’s dream industry, noir paperbacks can be seen as an inverted mirror to Harlequin romances. Continue reading

American Paperbacks in French : ” Le Fantôme” Ferenczi

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Ferenczi published predominantly  French authors over many decades. But after WWII it followed the American vogue and tried to benefit from  the popularity of Crime Fiction from America. It created the series Le Fantôme to bring American novels which had not been published in France.  Just when French noir authors started to emerge with other publishers (Gallimard, Fleuve Noir and Presses de la Cité, most notably) this new Ferenczi collection was launched in 1953, publishing translations of novels by american authors from the 1940s.  The covers hence  bear two mentions : roman policier américain and inédit en France. It only lasted a couple of years, with only 24 novels published. But among them are four of the first noir novels by Harry Whittington.  Murder is My Mistress (1951) was the first book published in the Le Fantôme series, in 1953.  Satan’s Widow (1952) was Le Fantôme no 8, Married to Murder (1951), Le Fantôme no 19,  in 1954. An author representative of the “second noir generation”, like Jim Thomson, Whittington, who published more than 80 noir novels would from the late 1950’s  onwards become a regular of Gallimard’s Série Noire.  The following sets the context of his debuts in France, and lists other American authors who were less enduringly succesful than him there, but who often did reasonably well at the time (Edward Ronns, Manning Lee Stokes…) Continue reading