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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fantômas (1911) by Marcel Allain & Pierre Souvestre


Book Review
Fantômas (1911)
by Marcel Allain & Pierre Souvestre

  Yeah well I'm not going to hold a book review of a pulp book about a sociopathic French serial killer until 2014.  Some books are so nerdy that this blog is the only place where I bring them up, Fantômas, a French pulp fiction series that was just in time to be adopted by the film industry and spread world wide, is an anti-hero, endlessly hunted by a well-meaning Parisian detective.  The original was published in 1911 and translated in 1915.  Fantômas never really took off in the English speaking world, but it is easy to see his influence in the world of comic books and super heroes, since he ran around in a mask and had an almost supernatural ability to disguise himself.

  It is worth mentioning that the criminal activity of Fantômas is extremely gory- the first number includes him ripping the throat of a noble woman for ear to ear, and the denouement involves an innocent man being guillotined in place of the guilty criminal.  This book is also notable because it carries the "influenced the early Surrealist/Dadaists."  Unintentionally, I'm sure, it's hard to read Fantômas as a particularly inspired early edition of the true crime/detective genre, with an anti-hero as the recurring protagonist instead of a hero/detective.

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