18 June 2010

Émile Gaboriau and Saujon, Charente-Maritime (17), France

Émile Gaboriau (1832-73) was born in Saujon, and is regarded as the first detective story writer. A great fan of Edgar Allan Poe, Gaboriau - who was a journalist familiar with trials and morgues -  transformed ideas behind Poe's stories into popular detective fiction. His first novel in this genre was L'Affaire Lerouge (1866), which first introduced his famous character Monsieur Lecoq, who was modeled on Eugène François Vidocq (1775-1857), a former thief who became a police officer, and who wrote the semi-fictional Les Vrais Mémoires de Vidocq.

The young Arthur Conan Doyle was one of the writers initially influenced by Gaboriau, although he took Poe's Dupin more as a model when he became a writer.

Although there is (surprisingly?) no monument to Gaboriau in Saujon, a street is named after him, but even then, it sounds slightly snooty to refer to him as a 'popular novelist'. As opposed to a serious one?

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