Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: *Polar* Concerns

From: Etienne Borgers (
Date: 19 Jun 2003

I didn't read this article, but from what I can understand from the abstracts you posted, Ruth More is partly misleading. Yes, there are no feminist PI, very few forensic legals... On the other hand, all the rest can be easily found in the Gallic "polars", as the colloquial term refers by its present days meaning to the entire mystery genre, all sub-genres included. But pretending there are no parody or humor is a sad joke... as diversity of styles in the humor applied to modern mysteries in France
(especially since the end of the sixties) is far more extended than in the USA, for instance.

Also, to be noted, the big selling Tabachnik is more "scandal orientated" than due to the writer's excellence, with books manipulating stories with heavy "trash" tendencies.

On the other hand if there was a massive entry of young French writers with leftist convictions in the HB/Noir domain since the seventies, real PIs in their stories are rare birds but this was true also all along the development of HB/Noir lit in France (development starting after WW2). The real cement between most of Noir French writers is a "anti authoritarian" approach in their descriptions of the modern society, an approach you will find even in works from authors that are not linked to leftist ideas.

But as very few French authors are translated into English, you will have difficulties to discover by yourself the particularity of French HB/Noir... unless you are able to read French.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

At 05:25 18-06-03 -0700, you wrote:
> In case you haven't seen it already, you might want to know about an
>awfully good article in TLS (the 5/23/2003 issue, page 23) devoted to French
>*polar* novels. The article's author is Ruth Morse.
> Among the bits that caught my eye were:
> " [...] conspicuously absent in France are the eco-thriller,
> the feminist PI, the locked room, the forensic legals, and the
> panoply of Anglo-Saxon parody and humour, although two
> big-selling women, Andrea H. Japp and Maud Tabachnik, imitate
> American trends in graphic violence."
> "In France the tradition of hard-boiled detection has always
> been associated with the Left (even if the lone PI, who is not
> part of organized political resistance could be classified as
> a radical conservative.)"
> (The second comment might be a good explanation for Jean-Luc
> Godard's having, alledgedly, based his 1966 "Made in U.S.A." on
> Richard Stark's "The Jugger.")
> This is almost entirely new teritory to me. One of the names Morse
>mentions, Jean-Claude Izzo, can be found in the Rara-Avis archives. But
>does anyone have anthing to say about authors Claude Amoz or Dominique

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