RARA-AVIS: Serie Noire

From: Rene Ribic ( reneribic@bigpond.com)
Date: 26 Feb 2004

> "Duhamel didn't "define" it; he applied it, leaving it to us to
> the common elements that all the books he published under the SERIE
> logo had, and so to identify the DEFINING elements.
> Are those the common elements of his book line? I must admit that I
> don't know. Even if I buy an inductive definition of the term (and
> not sure I do), I'd need to see a list of the books published under
> Serie Noir. Anyone got one?
> Mark
I don't have a list of the books but I did transcribe, from the Gallimard website, a list of authors that they've published under the Serie Noire banner. Many hundreds of them. I didn't bother with titles because most of them I was unable to work out what the English title was, where appropriate. (Many of the books are by French authors, many of whom sport Anglo noms-de-plume (sp.?). However, Gallimard publish the whole list on their website. I can't give you the exact link but if you go to Gallimard's WebPages at: http://www.gallimard.fr/ In the top right-hand of the homepage there is a list of (French, natch) phrases. Point to "CATALOGUES" and a menu appears. Click on
"Collection". The next page has a couple of drop menus. Click on the top one and scroll down the options till you reach "SERIE NOIRE" then click on "RECHERCHER" (search) (or just hit "enter") which is in red just under the second drop menu. Next you will have the beginning of the Serie Noire catalogue of 2353 titles (!), starting with Edward S. Aarons. You can also rearrange the entries by book title, series no. etc.if you prefer. I have one time list member Etienne to thank for this info. I would never have found this in a million years on my own.

The first ten volumes published are three novels by James Hadley Chase, four by Peter Cheyney, one each by Raymond Chandler, Horace McCoy and Don Tracy. The most recent volumes listed (from 2001) include works by James Crumley, Jon A. Jackson, Christopher Brookmyre and several presumably French or European authors that I personally haven't heard of. Other authors published over the years: Hammett, W. R. Burnett, James Cain, Robert Finnegan, Jonathan Latimer, Kenneth Millar (Ross Macdonald), Paul Cain, Samuel Taylor, Stanley Ellin, Raoul Whitfield, Harold Masur, Richard Sale, Richard Ellington, James Gunn, David Dodge, Jim Thompson, John Spain (aka ?), Bruno Fischer, P. J. Wolfson, H. Vernor Dixon, Frank Kane, Richard Wormser, Thomas B. Dewey & John D. MacDonald. That's just in the first 100 volumes. Lawrence Block, Harry Crews, Joe Lansdale, Philip Jose Farmer, Don Winslow, Robert Skinner, A A Attanasio, Nicholas Blincoe, Peter Blauner, Ed McBain, Carlos Sampayo, Donald Goines, Elmore Leonard are authors published in more recent times. The Serie Noire list is, these days at least, overwhelmingly filled with authors I've never heard of, most of them presumably French. And let's not forget that Gallimard/Serie Noire commissioned Chester Himes to create his brilliant Coffin Ed / Gravedigger Jones series. I know the list includes unusual choices such as Donovan's Brain and other ring-ins from other genres. Gallimard's vision of 'noir" fiction is very broad indeed, from Carter Brown to Harry Crews and anything in between or within grabbing distance. hey seem to have published the great majority of authors that we've discussed here. I'd love to have the opportunity to investigate much of the original material that Serie Noire publish but that doesn't seem very likely unless I learn how to read French (and read it well).


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