RARA-AVIS: Re: Jean Bruce and Paul Kenny

From: Jeremy Duns ( jeremyduns@yahoo.com)
Date: 14 May 2002

Etienne, thanks for your extremely informative post. I should have joined this list a long time ago. I do read French - but I'm quite slow! And it's almost impossible to find information about this kind of thing in English.

--- Etienne Borgers < freeweb@rocketmail.com> wrote:
> If spy novels of the kind attract you, you will have
> to read some by Paul Kenny with his character:
> Francis
> Copland, French spy. To replace Bruce when he left,
> FN
> asked to one of their writers to create a new spy
> series. The Belgian writer took a pseudonym Paul
> Kenny
> for the new series. After something like 10 novels
> he
> teamed up with another Belgian writer and still
> under
> the Kenny alias they produced hugely successful spy
> novels with Copland as the hero.

You don't happen to know the names of these Belgian writers, do you? Or if they're still alive? I write for a magazine in Brussels, and that might just make a terrific story.

> After 130 titles,
> in
> 1973, FN created a special collection publishing
> only
> the Copland novels. The total sales for Copland's
> were
> never really known. But in 1965 they had already
> sold
> a total of 16 million copies since the beginning.
> The success of these novels was tremendous for the
> size of the French market.

The earlier OSS117 books also claim 16 million copies sold. On the later ones, this moves up to 55 million. It seems somewhat extraordinary to me that a writer who has had over 50 million copies in print is not in print anymore or widely translated, let alone read. Donald Hamilton is thought to have had around 40 million copies of his Matt Helm series in print to date, yet his publishers aren't interested in the latest one. With Penguin reprinting Fleming's work, can't some enterprising publishing house reprint some of these guys? There must be a market, surely.

> If you are interested by real hard-boiled/noir lit.
> try to read the recent French production (I
> understand
> you read French?) by authors that were never (or
> rarely) translated in English and you will also
> discover with them how a different culture handles
> this genre.

I'll do that.

> You will find a few names of authors on my web site
> http://www.geocities.com/polarnoir

Looks excellent.
> And… welcome to the list.

Thanks. Jeremy

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