Re: RARA-AVIS: Jos頇iovanni died

From: E.Borgers (
Date: 30 Apr 2004

Tapni Bagge gave a very good description of Giovanni's career as HB/noir writer. Giovanni is one of the important writers who renovated the French approach to HB lit during the late 50s. His quality of writing and of storytelling made him one of the few real modern HB/noir French author of quality at the time. Criminals and independent "gangsters" were most of the time the protagonists and antiheroes of his novels. Friendship, betrayal and denial of the values of the official society were always at the center of his gripping stories. Giovanni's main characters live in a world that they cannot accept, in which they really do not fit, but they will go to the end of their tragic destiny without flinching. The best of his work were the first five (1958-1964) of the very successful novels published by S鲩e Noire (which incl the titles cited by Mr Bagge, starting with LE DEUXIEME SOUFFLE - The Second Breath) and his second luck was that some were quickly adapted by French cinema masters in their tremendous films noirs. His next novels were more "adventure" orientated, but always with marginal antiheroes and NB/noir by essence and with the same values as center of the stories. LE TROU (French slang for prison) is the very first novel by Giovanni indeed, and it was published by Gallimard in his "normal" mainstream novels series. A first class novel, dry, without concessions and gripping. Because he immediately understood the value of this novel, Marcel Duhamel (founder of Serie Noire) signed him the same year for his SN. I can understand that in these years American publishers were not very interested by Giovanni and other French authors, as it was still the boom period of US HB paperbacks, with a multitude of very good American writers available. But it is less understandable that, let us say from the 80s onwards, they did not pay more attention to the foreign HB/noir writers of high quality. The losers are the American readers.


Tapani Bagge:

> French crime writer and film director Jos頇iovanni died on Sunday. He
> was 80 years old and lived in Switzerland. I think his first book, Le
> Trou (The Break), is the only one translated in English. Jacques
> Becker, Claude Sautet and Jean-Pierre Melville directed excellent
> movies from Giovanni's novels (Le Trou, Classe tous risques and Le
> Deuxi譥 Souffle). /...

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