Re: RARA-AVIS: Chandler and Malet

From: E.Borgers (
Date: 17 Jan 2006

Kevin Burton Smith wrote:

>A masters student in the UK contqacted me a few days ago and said she
>recalls reading a comment by Chandler suggesting that he appreciated
>Malet and comparing him to Hammett. Any idea where she might have seen
>this or is she halucinating?
I think your last hypothesis is correct. As far as I know, Chandler never commented Malet. Further I do not think that Malet was even translated into English during Chandler's lifetime. I'm reasonably well "Malet-educated" and came never across a citation about a possible Chandler appraisal. Not in specialist analysis of anything related to Malet, nor in his autobiography: LA VACHE ENRAGÉ…. Should have Chandler said something like what you report, believe me it should have been noted in each reprint of Malet's novels and in each analyze of his work. Worse than that, the way Malet build his mystery fictions with his PI Nestor Burma is in a way closer to Chandler's approach than Hammett's. Burma can be HB but it is not his only way.

Of course one could argue that Malet is a French prolongation of a mix between Chandler and Hammett, but he added also in his works things coming from roots having nothing to do with anglo-saxon HB/noir. Neither did he pastiche of both Chandler and Hammett.

On the other hand, "modern" reviewers, lacking mystery fiction culture, and supported by false pretense issued by publishers (in press releases or even on the back-cover of the books), could have at certain moments qualify Malet of "heir of Hammett and Chandler..." or "the French Hammett..." or of any bulls...t of the same essence. As you know, today, publishers -everywhere- qualify writers with these two authors names that are currently known by the general public (even if they never read any of them). So this could be the source of confusion for your student (?).


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 17 Jan 2006 EST