RARA-AVIS: Re: Jean-Patrick Manchette (was: Leo Malet)

From: Etienne Borgers ( wbac1203@wanadoo.be)
Date: 04 Aug 2003

At 18:49 01-08-03 -0400, you wrote:
>I'm now reading Jean-Patrick Manchette's The Prone Gunman (thanks to
>whoever recommended it on the list). This features a very effective
>clipped, just-the-facts writing style. I never would have questioned
>the translation if I hadn't just read the Brit translation of Malet. I
>wonder how true this is to Manchette's style in French. I can see the
>Hammett in the statement "Manchette was influenced as much by Guy Debord
>as by Dashiell Hammett," but not the Debord. Of course, the Debord
>reference is probably more an allusion to Manchette's generation and
>worldview, than some situationist writing style. As far as that goes,
>except for the occasional cultural reference, I didn't see much evidence
>of Malet's surrealist background in his book either.

Manchette's style is quite "behaviorist" and his novels are never padded with unnecessary text. I did'nt read the translations, so I cannot tell you how faithful to Manchette's style it was. Because there's a real style in his writing but it always stays efficient and "thrifty".

Reference to Debord's is to be understood as influences on his ideas, not on his style. Debord's situationism, very much in favor during the 60's and 70's by some intellectual circles (and May 68 uprising students) was advocating (under others) the direct action by the "phagocyting" of any existing communication media by using their own methods, channels, and even tones, also their existing distribution and audiences, to spread ideas that were not the commonly admitted ones, without doing real propaganda. In Manchette's own views, he was applying the situationist method to the noir/NB novel taking the opportunity to defend "gauchiste" ideas and ethics(leftist in the French senses- not in the general sense of this word). But he was first a writer, and my personal view is that his talent made that noir literature was finally "phagocyted" him...

And if you did'nt read THREE TO KILL yet, that's the next one by Manchette you should read.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries http://www.geocities.com/Athens/6384

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