My Book Notes: Foreign Bodies (2017) edited and introduced by Martin Edwards


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The British Library, 2017. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1139 KB. Print Length:  257 pages. ASIN:B0767QG6Z6. eISBN: 978-0-7123-6446-1.

51uiFYp32ELBook Description: Today, translated crime fiction is in vogue – but this was not always the case. A century before Scandi noir, writers across Europe and beyond were publishing detective stories of high quality. Often these did not appear in English and they have been known only by a small number of experts. This is the first ever collection of classic crime in translation from the golden age of the genre in the 20th century. Many of these stories are exceptionally rare, and several have been translated for the first time to appear in this volume. Martin Edwards has selected gems of classic crime from Denmark to Japan and many points in between. Fascinating stories give an insight into the cosmopolitan cultures (and crime-writing traditions) of diverse places including Mexico, France, Russia, Germany and the Netherlands. (Source: Amazon)

From the Introduction: The stories in Foreign Bodies are presented, very approximately, in chronological order of publication. When one reads the stories, the influence of Conan Doyle is often evident, but what is truly captivating, to my mind, is the variety of storytelling styles adopted by writers in different parts of the world at much the same time as Christie and her English-speaking colleagues were debating the so-called ‘rules’ of the classic whodunit. (Martin Edwards)

Book Content: “The Swedish Match” (1883) by Anton Chekov (trans. Peter Sekerin); “A Sensible Course of Action’” (1909) by Palle Rosenkrantz (trans. Michael Meyer); “Strange Tracks” (1911) by Balduin Groller (trans. N.L. Lederer); “The Kennel” (1920) by Maurice Level (trans. Alys Eyre Macklin); “Footprints in the Snow” (1923), by  Maurice Leblanc; “The Return of Lord Kingwood” (1926) by Ivans (trans. Josh Pachter); “The Stage Box Murder” (1929) by Paul Rosenhayn (trans. June Head); “The Spider” (1930) by Koga Saburo (trans Ho-Ling Wong); “The Venom of the Tarantula” (1933) by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay (trans. Sreejata Guha); “Murder à la Carte” (1931) by Jean-Toussaint Samat; “The Cold Night’s Clearing” (1936) by Keikichi Osaka (trans Ho-Ling Wong); “The Mystery of the Green Room” (1936) by Pierre Véry (trans. John Pugmire); “Kippers” (19??) by John Flanders (trans. Josh Pachter); “The Lipstick and the Teacup” (1957) by Havank (trans. Josh Pachter); and “The Puzzle of the Broken Watch” (1960) by Maria Elvira Bermudez (trans. Donald A. Yates).

My Take: At the end of the 19th century and up to the first half of the 20th, the development of crime fiction took place not only in English-speaking countries but it spreads through other parts of the world. This collection of short detective stories is good evidence of this. But these works, due to the lack of translations, had not always been within reach of English readers. With this book, Martin Edwards not only fills a gap but brings the possibility to get to know better some of these authors and their works.

This selection comprises a total of fifteen short stories, sorted approximately in chronological order of publication, starting with Anton Chekhov’s “The Swedish Match” and ending with Maria Elvira Bermudez’ “The Puzzle of the Broken Watch”. The first one dated in 1883 and the latest published in book form in 1960, even though it probably appeared first in 1948 in the magazine Selecciones Policiacas y de Misterio.

As it can be expected, at this kind of selection, personal preferences may incline more towards each or other short story, but it can be no doubt that all these authors deserve to be better known. For this reason I strongly recommend this book to all aficionados to the genre.

I would like to add to finalise that I entrust the success of this book will encourage publishers to translate more crime classic books by foreign authors and readers to read them.

Foreign Bodies has been reviewed, among others by Kate Jackson at Cross-Examining Crime, Lea at FictionFan’s Book Reviews, Margaret at Books Please, Chris Roberts at Crime Review, Jason Half, Jim Noy at The Invisible Event, Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries,

About the Editor: Martin Edwards is the 2020 recipient of the CWA Diamond Dagger, the highest honour in UK crime writing. His latest novel is Mortmain Hall, a crime novel set in 1930. He has received the CWA Dagger in the Library, awarded by UK librarians for his body of work. He is President of the Detection Club, consultant to the British Library’s Crime Classics, and former Chair of the CWA. His contemporary whodunits include The Coffin Trail, first of seven Lake District Mysteries and shortlisted for the Theakston’s Prize for best crime novel of the year. The Arsenic Labyrinth was shortlisted for Lakeland Book of the Year. The Golden Age of Murder won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards, while The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books also won the Macavity and was nominated for four other awards. He has also received the CWA Short Story Dagger, the CWA Margery Allingham Prize, a CWA Red Herring, and the Poirot award “for his outstanding contribution to the crime genre”. (Source: Martin Edwards’ blog ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’). His forthcoming book The Crooked Shore (Lake District Mysteries #8) will go on sale on 22 July 2021.

British Library publicity page

Poisoned Press Pen publicity page

Foreign Bodies de Martin Edwards (Editor)

Descripción del libro: Hoy en día, la novela policiaca traducida está de moda, pero no siempre fue así. Un siglo antes de la novela negra escandinava, escritores de toda Europa y más allá publicaban historias de detectives de gran calidad. A menudo, estas no aparecían en inglés y solo eran conocidas por un pequeño número de expertos. Esta es la primera colección de novelas policiacas clásicas traducidas de la edad de oro del género en el siglo XX. Muchas de estas historias son excepcionalmente raras y varias se han traducido por primera vez para aparecer en este volumen. Martin Edwards ha seleccionado joyas de la novela policiaca clásica desde Dinamarca hasta Japón y muchos puntos intermedios. Historias fascinantes que nos proporcionan una perspectiva sobre la cultura cosmopolita (y las tradiciones de obras policiacas) de distintos lugares , incluidos México, Francia, Rusia, Alemania y los Países Bajos. (Fuente: Amazon)

De la Introducción: Las historias de Foreign Bodies se presentan, de forma muy aproximada, por el orden cronológico de su publicación. Cuando uno lee las historias, la influencia de Conan Doyle es a menudo evidente, pero lo que es verdaderamente fascinante, en mi opinión, es la variedad de estilos narrativos adoptados por escritores en diferentes partes del mundo al mismo tiempo que Christie y sus colegas angloparlantes debatían las llamadas ‘reglas’ de la novela policíaca clásica. (Martin Edwards)

Mi opinión: A finales del siglo XIX y hasta la primera mitad del XX, el desarrollo de la novela policiaca tuvo lugar no solo en los países de habla inglesa, sino que se extendió por otras partes del mundo. Esta colección de relatos de detectives es una buena prueba de ello. Pero estas obras, debido a la falta de traducciones, no siempre habían estado al alcance de los lectores angloparlantes. Con este libro, Martin Edwards no solo llena un vacío sino que brinda la posibilidad de conocer mejor a algunos de estos autores y sus obras.

Esta selección comprende un total de quince relatos breves, ordenados aproximadamente por orden cronológico de publicación, comenzando con “The Swedish Match” de Anton Chejov y terminando con “El embrollo del reloj” de Maria Elvira Bermudez. El primero data de 1883 y el último publicado en forma de libro en 1960, aunque probablemente apareció por primera vez en 1948 en la revista Selecciones Policiacas y de Misterio.

Como era de esperar, en este tipo de selección, las preferencias personales pueden inclinarse más hacia uno u otro relato breve, pero no cabe duda de que todos estos autores merecen ser más conocidos. Por esta razón, recomiendo este libro a todos los aficionados al género.

Me gustaría añadir para finalizar que confío que el éxito de este libro animará a los editores a traducir más libros clásicos de novela policiaca de autores en idiomas extranjeros y a los lectores a leerlos.

Acerca del editor: Martin Edwards recibió en 2020 el CWA Diamond Dagger, la mayor distición del Reino Unido a un escritor de novela policiaca. Su última novela, Mortmain Hall, es una novela policiaca ambientada en 1930. Ha recibido el CWA Dagger in the Library, otorgado por libreros del Reino Unido por su trabajo. Es presidente del Detection Club, consultor de Crime Classics de la Biblioteca Británica y ex presidente de la CWA. Sus novelas policiacas contemporáneas incluyen The Coffin Trail, el primero de siete Misterios en le Lake District y seleccionado para el Theakston’s Prize a la mejor novela policíaca del año. The Arsenic Labyrinth fue seleccionado para el Lakeland Book of the Year. The Golden Age of Murder ganó los premios Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating y Macavity, mientras que The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books también ganó el Macavity y fue nominado para otros cuatro premios. También ha recibido el CWA Short Story Dagger, el CWA Margery Allingham Prize, un CWA Red Herring y el premio Poirot “por su destacada contribución al género policiaco”. (Fuente: blog de Martin Edwards ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’). Su próximo libro The Crooked Shore (Lake District Mysteries # 8) saldrá a la venta el 22 de julio de 2021.

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