Re: RARA-AVIS: Still on Carco/ Black Lizard

From: Etienne Borgers (
Date: 03 Feb 2000

Greg's message gave already additional details about Carco's work and history.

However it is a fact that Carco was always published, promoted and perceived in France at the time as a literary author. But, by his subjects (French underground, night life, small crooks, pimps..etc) and settings (realistic and of the naturalist vein) we indeed could see him as a
*distant* root having had some influence on a part of French Noir (to answer Juri). Not as a founder. I think this is the best way to position this author.

His style of writing is certainly not "behaviourist" enough (as far as I remember, as I red 3 of his novels long time ago-and don't have them with me now) to be linked directly to the early Noir/HB lit domain.

But we could certainly find part of his influence in the writings of Albert Simonin the author who really created a new style of HB/Noir novels with French mobsters and typical French settings during the fifties (and with the dialog and the narrative text itself written almost totally in French slang).

Besides authors like Carco we must remember this French tradition coming from the early 19th Century for "feuilletons" , stories mixing melodrama, action, adventures, gore and some social realism - as being one of the important historical segments of French popular literature. It developed also into the typical stories of "mauvais garcons" (literally: bad boys- name for "natural" outlaws).
"Feuilletons" are as well *one* of the roots of typical early 20th Century Gallic mystery (not HB) writers like: Gaston Leroux - Maurice Leblanc - Alain et Souvestre
(duo of Fantomas fame).

Carco was doing a literary and talented revisiting of the "mauvais garcons" world. He was also using some slang in his dialog.
(In France some type of slang has a literary tradition and a long history).

Besides "Jesus-la-Caille"(title= nickname of the central character) the second in fame of his novels was: "L'Homme Traque'"(literally: the Hunted Man). As for 'Perversity' the English title is the direct equivalent of the French Perversite', but I do not remember having red that one.

Hope this was not too long.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

--- Juri Nummelin <> wrote:
> Francis Carco's "L'Homme traque" was translated in
> 1930 into Finnish as
> "Vainottu" ("Hunted", "Haunted" or something like
> that). The book seems
> to have won a prize from the French Academy. Is this
> an early example of
> French noir?

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