Re: RARA-AVIS: Suggestion for reading... French Authors

Etienne Borgers (
Sat, 25 Jul 1998 17:25:42 +0800 (SGT) Mark Sullivan wrote:
> One of Peter's nominations, another of the Fresh Blood
>authors, Philip Kerr or maybe a non-Maigret Simenon. "They like it in
>France" always seems to be a good recommendation for American culture
>(except maybe for Jerry Lewis and Sylvester Stallone), I've been meaning
>to check out their domestic output (several authors came upwere in the
>list last month). I've liked the too few French crime films (Melville,
>Godard, Truffaut) I've seen, so I've been meaning to check out the

It's a matter of fact that the HB/Noir in France gave some top writers and
excellent novels, especially since the sixties. Also, the critics there have
real flair, even if they make mistakes from time to time.
However there is a major problem, with very few exceptions: no English
translation for most of them...
Culprit could be more the UK mainstream publishers than the American ones,
as UK is normally the vehicle for European languages novels to reach USA.
We have seen the same problem with the Belgian/French successful comics
productions that never made it to UK (except Tintin, Asterix, the Smurfs
and episodically Luky Luke) as the British publishers felt it mostly unfit
for the UK market. Ironically the Belgian/French comics were a hit in ALL
the other countries of Europe and as far as Japan,China, Indonesia..etc

To top this, since the 70's, the American publishers neglected HB and Noir,
and we are not sure anymore that today mainstream publishers can identify
new works of value in popular literature of any genre in their own country,
not speaking of new American authors of real value. The Best Seller list is
their God, Goal and justification...
We all know the result!

So even if I could give recommendations about French or other HB authors
from Europe, it will be a theoretical exercise as the English translations
probably do not exist. Unless one reads French...

But the American public is certainly missing something of value.

As for Cinema, I agree with Mark that there are very good HB/Noir films made
in France- the directors he cites are amongst the best, especially Melville;
but here, most of the best French films were distributed in USA, on the
contrary of the novels.

As for jerry Lewis, his fame in France was mainly due to the best of his
films directed by Frank Tashlin, at the time, and that found a very good
support by the critics of the famous"Cahier du Cinema" or "Cinema 63" , end
of the fifities- early sixties. I think that what was appealing in these
days was the iconoclastic view of Tashlin of the daily American way of
life... in this much more "conservative" era, as were the end of the fifties.
Stallone??? Is he so well acclaimed in France...? I doubt.
But, hey: nobody's perfect...


# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# The web pages for the list are at