Monday, 10 July 2017

Foreign Bodies

I've been putting the finishing touches to a British Library anthology that I'm really excited about. This is Foreign Bodies, a collection of classic crime in translation that includes several real gems. I'll be saying more about this book in the coming weeks - it's due to be published in October - but certainly foreign crime fiction is very much in my mind just at the moment.

I've been doing some research on the history of crime fiction in non-English speaking languages, and this has reintroduced me to some very interesting authors and stories. And also to one of the great characters of the genre. Eugene Francois Vidocq was not a crime novelist, but his Memoirs were a big success in Britain as well as in Europe, and he influenced plenty of major writers whose work touched on crime. Coincidentally, I visited his birthplace, Arras, in north eastern France while on a brief trip a couple of weeks ago. I really liked Arras, and as well as visiting the citadel, explored the belfry and the mysterious tunnels beneath the main square. A charming town, though I think they could make more of the Vidocq connection.

The reason I got to Arras was that I'd figured out that a trip on Eurostar from St Pancras to Lille takes less time than a train ride from nearby Euston to my local stations, Warrington and Runcorn. So it was time to visit Lille, and I'm glad I did. Vauban's citadel is well worth a look, as is the (relatively modern) belfry and the rather unusual cathedral. Lille also boasts a Sherlock Holmes pub...

In some ways, the highlight of the very short trip. was a visit across the border, to Tournai in Belgium. I loved the triangular main square, and the fascinating architecture all around. The cathedral is magnificent, although currently undergoing major renovations. And I also had time to read a couple of Golden Age books that will feature in Forgotten Books before too long.


Jonathan said...

I'm looking forward to 'Foreign Bodies' - probably my most anticipated crime classics publication this year. Would you be offering a sneak preview of the contents page...? :D

Martin Edwards said...

There's a question mark over one of the stories, or rather which story out of a choice of two will be included, which the BL is striving to resolve, Jonathan, but I'm hopeful it will be sorted out soon.