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INTRODUCTION

TO
19TH AND 20TH CENTURY
FRENCH SERIAL NOVELISTS
ENGLISH TRANSLATION

VOLUME II
EUGNE SUE
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

AUTHORS BY DATE OF BIRTH


Frdric Souli 1800-1847
Charles Rabou 1803-1871
Eugne Sue 1804-1857
Paul Fval pre 1816-1887
Fortun du Boisgobey 1821-1891
mile Gaboriau 1832-1873
Antonin Reschal 1874-1935
Jean Petithuguenin 1878-1839 (J. A. de Valry)
Pierre Yrondy--- No exact biographic information is known about Yrondy, not even if Yrondy
was his birth name or a pseudonym. A known fact is that he was active as an editor and writer
into the late 1920s.
Listed above by date of birth, the authors cover more than sixty years and extend from the
earliest feuilletonists to almost the modern period. However, they will be treated in the
descending order below, taking into consideration how prolific they were and how they
influenced following authors. Some of the feuilletonists, equally, or better known at the time,
have been omitted from these first volumes, but will appear in following volumes.
Frederic Souli,
Eugne Sue
Paul Fval, pre,
mile Gaboriau
Fortun du Boisgobey
Charles Rabou
Antonin Reschal
Jean Petithuguenin (J. A. Saint Valry)
Pierre Yrondy
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VOLUME II
EUGNE SUE
(MARIE-JOSEPH SUE)
1804-1857
BIOGRAPHY
Eugne Sue was one of the famous literary figures to be analyzed by a fake biographer,
novelist and critic of the period, Eugne Mirecourt, born Charles Jean-Baptiste Jacquot, 1 who
wrote real and imagined biographies of most of the popular literary figures of his day in a series
called Les Contemporains, which appeared in popular newspapers. His debunkers point out that
he knew almost none of the authors whose supposed biographies he wrote. He was called the
great Inquisitor of famous men. His version of the life of Eugne Sue is colorful, if not factual
over all. He wrote: Eugne Sue wasnt at all, like Romulus, suckled by a she-wolf. A goat was
his wet nurse, 2 and everybody knows the certain effect of that type of suckling. Once at school,
the doctors heir had a taste for nothing but sports and dissipation. His best friend in class was
Adolphe Adam 3. Together, the two friends cultivated laziness and committed an outrageous
number of pranks. Instead of preparing their lessons, they raised Indian pigs and let those
destructive animals into Father Sues botanical garden, where they did frightfully disgusting acts.
Now, the families of our two pranksters, wanting to compel them to work, agreed on the
choice of a very competent, but very poor, tutor, and who, once hired, trembled at losing such a
lucrative position. Every time this unfortunate fellow talked to them about studying, Eugne and
Adolphe shouted with one accord: Damn the translations! Let themes go to the Devil! If you tell
on us, we know how to pay you back.
The tutor was weak enough to give in to intimidation. When Monsieur Sue asked how
his son was doing, stifling a cry of remorse, the tutor answered that he worked at his Latin a
great deal.
Oh! Oh! Lets see where he is in the Concessione. (The good doctor meant to say,
Conciones.)
Certainly, Eugne answered, with the guiltiest confidence. Then Adolphe and he,
winking at each other, the two rascals tried to out-do each other with all the atrocities that came
to mind. The father was delighted and gave the teacher a tip.
Although Eugnes face was very ordinary, it radiated the most marvelous good health.
His physique was elegant and pleasing. At school, he was called le beau Sue, when
pronounced, le bossu, the hunchback. It was claimed that le beau Sue was changed into Sue-
le-fait (sulfate) when he entered his fathers laboratory. We forgot to say that his father possessed
a magnificent laboratory. Every Monday and every Wednesday he taught botany in his own
1
Charles-Jean-Baptiste Jacquot 1812-1880- slandered major feuilletonists of the period and was sued several
times; he spent six months in jail for slander. At the end of his life he became a Dominican and died in Haiti. -
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2
A goat in mythology is frequently the symbol of lechery.
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Adolphe-Charles Adam (1803-1856), composer and music critic.
drawing room to a select group of women. Thanks to his ancestry, to a rather important clientele,
to his former title as physician to the Empress, to his theory about those guillotined, 4 and to a
great deal of self-assurance, Monsieur Sue was considered a first-rate scientist. 5 These ladies
paid a great deal of money for the right to be admitted to the meetings, with the exception
sometimes of several among them who, by reason of some kind of intimacy, were admitted
without charge. In addition to Adolphe Adam, Eugne had then Ferdinand Langl 6 as a friend,
another rascal of the same stamp. The three demons were in charge of preparing the lectures.
Although very ignorant themselves, they suspected the dear doctors absolute lack of knowledge.
They got together almost every time to make him the victim of a hoax filled with villainy.
Instead of labeling carefully the plants about which Monsieur Sue was going to lecture, they
labeled them with impossible and monstrous names in order to see how the botanists erudition
would extricate him from such a serious embarrassment.
The hour of the class sounded; the pretty ladies were present. A door curtain of garnet
velvet at the back of the room was pushed aside to reveal the doctor, who entered, a smile on his
lips, greeting to the right, greeting to the left, and went to be seated on a dais encumbered with
all sorts of plants, and seemed at first dazzled by the baroque names inscribed on the plant
holders. But, since he couldnt show too great a surprise without compromising himself, he
heroically pronounced the name of the plant and said:
This, ladies, is the concrysionisades. He coughed a little, gathered himself together
for some seconds, and began the history of the fabulous plant, inventing a ragout of petals, of
corollas, of families, of sexes, of types, and seasoned with the smoothest elocution and the most
imperturbable calm. He spoke like this for two or three hours, without stumbling at a single
sentence, and, of course, without a conclusion.
As it might be surmised, the three audacious preparers brought out those beautiful
dissertations. But what was the most reprehensible in that---most of all on the part of Eugene,
who should have thrown a veil of respect over his fathers scientific nudity---was that the nicest
of all the students, the ones who didnt pay anything, were in on the secret. Less restrained than
the guilty one, it often happened that they burst out laughing in the face of the intrepid professor.
The latter, however, never suspected the trick. By dint of repeating his lies, a liar finally
believes them, and we think a similar phenomenon came about in the scientist. He believed in the
existence of the concrysionisodes, and in the accuracy of his botanical lectures.
Eugne left school a little less erudite than the author of his days. But despite the
progressive decrease in medical talent, a solid clientele, stubbornly enriching the family, Doctor
Sue enrolled his son as an assistant in the Kings Hospital. There our hero made the acquaintance

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Sues father, contrary to the medical opinion of most other doctors of his time, held that those guillotined
continued to suffer atrocious pain. See:Opinion du Citoyen Sue, Professor of Medicine and Botany, sur la Supplice
de la Guillotine (Magazin Encyclopdique, Vol. IV. 1795, 170-189.
5
For a more factual analysis than that of Jacquot of the career of Eugne Sues family of surgeons see: The Sus:
An illustrious Family of French Surgeons, Sir Arthur MacNelly, British Journal of Surgery, Vol. 45, Issue 193, pp.
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403-413, March, 1958.


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Ferdinand Langl -playwright, (1798-1867).
of the illustrious Doctor Vron 7, that he was to meet again one day on a terrain other than
medicine, the terrain of socialism. They were only about three years apart in age. Vron made a
fourth in the band and the scoundrels meet very regularly in Fathers Sues office. Was it to
work, or to examine the cranium of Mirabeau, that Monsieur Sue had valuably preserved in a
jar? Not at all. It was a question of visiting a certain armoire full of exquisite wines given to the
doctor in 1815 by the sovereigns of the coalition, whose pulse he had had the honor to take. A
premier Tokay, a gift of the Emperor of Austria, was found there and a Rhine wine, turned into
nectar, a generous gift of the King of Prussia.
And so runs Miracourts biography of Sue, raising the question of where he found all
these intimate details. Sues correspondence was the source of the basic information, but without
Mirecourts elaboration and embroidering. Sue own account and that of his friend, Madame
Marie de Solms, 8 is, in fact, filled with more exciting facts than even Miracourt could invent.
Sue was born in Paris.. His family was originally from Provence. Pierre Sue, his great
grandfather, a professor and the librarian of the city of Paris, left some valuable works and died
poor. His grandfather, more fortunate, amassed a considerable fortune. professor at the cole
des Beaux Arts, and surgeon to the household of Louis XVI. Eugnes father, Jean-Joseph Sue ,
inherited the Chair of Anatomy, was named by Napolon surgeon to the National Guard, and
was later to earn the good graces of Louis XVIII, who made him member of his military staff.
Sues father was married three times, the first marriage produced a daughter, but ended
almost immediately in divorce, but Sues mother formed a liaison which produced a son, Ernest
Legouv, Sus half-brother. Eugne was the offspring of his fathers second marriage. His wife,
Sues mother, died at the end of two years of marriage. With a third marriage, his father
produced another daughter.
Sue via Madam Sollms explains: In the course of his medical career, Eugnes father had
as must good luck as merit. He was the doctor of Messna, of several Marshals of the Empire,
and of Madame de Beauharnais, who retained her confidence in him when she sat beside
Napolon on the Imperial Throne. Empress Josephine and Prince Eugne de Beauharnais, her
son, were present at the baptism of the future author of Les Mystres de Paris and of Le Juif
Errant. It was about that time that Dr. Sue began to hold a strange thesis that brought him
great popularity by its bizarre nature. He maintained that those guillotined, after their
decapitation, experienced atrocious suffering, and he supported his opinion by anatomical
proofs and by examples. It was useless for Cabanis, 9 and other capable medical men to insist on
the impossibility of his theory.
Miracourts account of Sues education says: When it was demonstrated to Eugne Sues
father that his sons vocation was to launch the javelin and not to critique Horace or Virgil, he
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Dr. Louis- Dsir Vron- began his career by selling patent medicine. Director of the Paris Opera (1831-1835),
owner and director of La Constitutionelle, the liberal newspaper (1838-1852). He published Sues Le Juif Errant in
installments. -
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Marie de Solms Marie -Laetitia-de Solms- ne Bonaparte-Wyse, great niece of Emperor Bonaparte. Bastard
daughter of Sir Thomas Wyse, biological daughter Captain Studholm John Hodgson (1805-1890?) She was
educated in Paris and her mother kept a brilliant salon frequented by Hugo, Dumas, and Sue.
9
Pierre-Jean-Georges-Cabinis psychologist who opposed Dr. Sues theory. See: Note Addrese aux auteurs du
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magazin encyclopdique
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withdrew him from school and had him entered as a surgeons aide at the Maison du Roi
Hospital in Paris. Soulis explanation agrees with that of Mirabeau, but without his inventions.
He writes that his father, convinced that his son was wasting his time, withdrew him from the
Collge Bourbon and had him enrolled as a surgeons assistant in the Kings hospital, where his
father was Chief Surgeon. There, Sue met his cousin, Ferdinand Langl, and the future Dr.
Vron, and says that in such company his medical studies did not proceed very far. He writes:
The happy triumvirate met regularly at Father Sues study. Was it to work or to examine
Mirabeaus brain that conserved in a jar? No, certainly not. It was a matter of visiting a certain
armoire full of exquisite wines given in 1815 to Dr. Sue by members of the sovereign coalitions
whose pulse he had been honored to take.
However, Sues father discovered their theft and the fact that they had emptied the flasks
only half-way, filling the remainder of the bottles with caramelized water. Madam Solm and Sue
continue the story: Oh! There was a terrible scene. The doctor of European kings wasnt a man
to pardon that devastation of the precious armoire. The same day, oh! The height of scandal, he
learned that his son was in debt and that he had been borrowing from money lenders.
His father paid his debts, but as punishment, Eugne was sent to Spain with the
expeditionary force sent to help Ferdinand VII. He served as an ambulance aide, and was then
attached to the staff of the Duke of Angoulme. As a member of the Dukes staff, he was present
at the Seige of Cadix and at the capture of Trocadero and Tarifa. He returned to Paris about the
middle of 1824.
Even though his father welcomed him and killed the fatted calf, he wasnt ready to untie
his apron strings. The money earned as an aide to the military medical personnel was not
sufficient to pay for life in Paris. Again, he borrowed, and again his father paid his debts, but
again he exiled him, this time to Toulon. Once back in Paris, he became part of a Paris literary
group, wrote and published four articles in newspapers January 27, 1826. The extra money from
the article was not sufficient to save him from more debts. This time his father formally declared
he would not pay one centime more, and Sue was once again exiled to join the French navy and
embark on a world tour. Initially stationed in the Antilles, after two months war broke out
between Greece and Russia. The Breslau, the ship on which Sue had embarked, set sail for
Egypt. Three weeks later, he heard the canons at Navarin. While the combined naval forces of
France, England, and Russia were engaging the Turco-Egyptian fleet, he gladly seized the
opportunity offered to see a naval combat and to study all its episodes. Standing on the bridge,
paying no attention to the bullets whistling around his ears, he heard the thunder of three
thousand canons and watched all the changing movements of the action which he would later
recount. 10
On his return to France he received the almost eighty thousand francs legacy left him by
his maternal grandfather, an almost inexhaustible fortune. He quickly resigned from the navy and
became a student in the studio of Gudin 11, the naval painter, with whom he traveled to Africa.
With Forges, he published a series of naval novels which placed him in the first ranks of
novelists. Naval stories were still new in modern literature, and it was shouted everywhere that a

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Sue began his career as a novelist with a sea story, ATAR-GULL. The first chapter and excerpts from the second
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chapter are translated in this article.


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Baron Jean-Antoine-Thodore Gudin 1802-1880 one of the first major painters of sea battles.
French Cooper (James Fenimore) had just been born. In the meantime, Dr. Sue died, leaving
between thirty and forty thousand francs of income to his heir. Sue continued his literary work.
The first books of his History of the French Navy, were published.
Seven or eight years went by with various publications, and during that time he ate
royally into his fortune. He had a charming house on the Rue de Ppinire, three servants, three
horses, three carriages. Ruin came rapidly and it was a bolt of lightning for Sue. It is true, placed
in his earliest infancy into rich and elegant surroundings, he was: habituated from his earliest
youth to all the comforts of material life, .he came to regard these as indispensable conditions
for his later existenceLike all men who are masters of a nice fortune when very young, he
thought that he possessed, at his fathers death, an inexhaustible treasure.
He then details his house in the Faubourg St. Germain, its luxuries, its art treasures, its
garden. The interior he had filled with family portraits, portraits of dogs he had painted, original
painting of Delacroix and other then modern painters, antiques of all styles. Both the interior of
his house and the garden were filled with plants and flowers; the garden containing a fountain
with ever-flowing water. At the back of the garden, two magnificent greyhounds, gifts of Lord
Chesterfield, were comfortably housed. Pheasants roamed the garden and rested in the flower
pots near the house at night.
The news of his ruin, that unexpected catastrophe, threw Eugne into complete
prostration for several days. Then, with the reversal of his fortunes, there came disillusions and
disenchantments. Almost all the friends of his rich days disappeared; the companions of his
pleasures flew far away. Those he thought he had a right to ask for solace refused him. That was
a cruel awakening! The transformation in the ideas and habits of his life, a transformation
reflected in his literary works, date from that awakening and gave them that philosophical and
social bent which assured their immortality. He was, at that period, about thirty-six to thirty-
eight years-old; sorrow matured him quickly. The young bon-vivant became a man and a thinker.
Advised by some still faithful friends, he retired to the country and sought in immoderate work
distractions from his sad preoccupations. Three months later, he published the novel Arthur,
giving the protagonist his own attributes, good and bad.
He was turned to Socialism by an article in La Dmocratie Pacifique. He began to study
the plight of the poor and the result of his studies was the novel, Les Mystres de Paris. The
publication immediately lifted him to international status as a writer. Not only did the poor react
to the plight of the poor as portrayed, the rich sent anonymous donations for Sue to send to those
most in need. During that time, he produced two comedies and a novel and, in 1848, agreed to
run for public office representing the Seine Department, an offer he had once before refused. He
was elected, but the mood of the country was turning against democracy. He saw the Coup dEtat
of 1850 coming and when it occurred, he voluntarily left France to avoid deportation. He went to
Annency in Savoy, then not a part of France. He wrote from a modest chalet there and continued
to be an exile until his death.
Perhaps due to his wide travels, varied experiences and occupations, Sue described
mysteries and violence admirably. The opening scenes of Les Mystres de Paris and Le Juif
Errant have few equals in literature for portraying mystery and violence. Sue begins Les
Mystres de Paris with a few pages describing the Paris slums, the language and way of life of
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those who live there, comparing them to James Fenimore Coopers savages in the American
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wilderness. Beginning with the excerpts translated below, Sue builds his monumental work. He
first explains the meaning of the words in the chapter heading, les tapis francs.
THE MYSTERIES OF PARIS 12
Les Tapis Francs
A tapis franc, in the slang of theft and murder, means a caf or a bar of the lowest kind.
An old criminal offender, a jail bird, in that dirty language, is called an ogre, or, a woman of
the same degradation an ogresse, and usually run these taverns frequented by the garbage of
the Parisian population; convicts released from prison, swindlers, thieves, murderers are
numerous there. If a crime has been committed, the police throw their net ( if it can be called
that), into that filth; they almost always pick up the one guilty. This debut lets the reader know
that he must witness sinister scenes; if he agrees to do so, he will penetrate into some horrible,
unknown areas, hideous, terrifying types swarming in those dirty cesspools like snakes in a
swamp.
Everyone has read the admirable pages in which Cooper, the American Walter Scott,
traced the ferocious customs of savages, their picturesque, poetic language, the thousand tricks
by which they flee or track down their enemies. The colonists and the city dwellers trembled,
thinking that barbaric tribes with their bloody uncivilized ways lived and roamed about so near
them. We are going to try to show the reader a few episodes from the life of some other
barbarians as outside civilization as the savage tribes so well painted by Cooper. However, the
barbarians we are talking about are among us; we rub shoulders with them when we venture into
the dens where they live, or where they gather to plan murder, theft, and, finally, to divide the
spoils of their victims. These men have their own way of life, the women theirs, a language all
their own, a mysterious language filled with dreadful imagery, metaphors dripping with blood.
Among themselves, these savages usually call each other by surnames borrowed from their
strength, their cruelty, by certain advantages, or by certain physical deformities.
Sue continues his Introduction by supposedly expressing his doubts as to whether he
should continue his narration. He writes: We almost remained in doubt.We would regret
having placed in such a horrible locale the story that will be read. However, we count a little on
the type of fearful curiosity that terrible scenes sometime provoke.The reader, forewarned of
the excursion we propose for him among the raw nature of that infernal race who people the
prisons, the jails, and whose blood reddens the scaffolds.the reader would perhaps willingly
follow us. That investigation will most likely be new for him; let us hasten to first warn that, if
he places his foot on the bottom rung of that social ladder, in the degree that the story continues,
the atmosphere will become more and more rarefied.
Sue then begins his story:
In a wet and cold night, the 13th of December 1838, a man with an athletic physique,
wearing a cheap outer blouse like those worn by workmen, artists, and peasants, crossed the Pont
au Change and made his way into the Cit, a labyrinth of dark, narrow, winding streets that run
from the Palais de Justice to Notre Dame de Paris, the area of the Palais de Justice, very
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Sue gives slang names to his characters, and, since there are no contemporary English equivalents, they have
been kept in French here. The three are the bully, the street singer, and the unknown Englishman. The Chourineur
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is the slang name for one who wields a knife. The Goualeuse is an itinerant street singer.
respectable, very well surveilled. It is, however, used as an asylum where all of Paris criminal
gather. Isnt it strange, or rather fatal, that an irresistible attraction always makes these criminals
gravitate around the tribunal which condemns them to prison, to jail, to the scaffold!
That night, the wind blew violently through all the various small streets of that gloomy
quarter; the pale, vacillating light of the street lamps shaken by the wind, was reflected in the
streams of blackish water flowing in the middle of the filthy flagstones.
The mud-colored houses were pierced by some rare, worm-eaten windows in rotting
frames with almost no glass. The ground floor of some of those houses were occupied by a few
coal dealers, tripe salesmen and resale shops of cheap goods. Despite the small value of that
merchandise, the store front of almost all those shops had iron grills, since the merchants very
much feared the audacious thieves. Black, revolting pathways led to still blacker, more revolting
stairs so perpendicular that they could scarcely be climbed even with the help of a well rope
fixed with steel clamps to the humid walls.
The man we were talking about, entering the Rue aux Fves, situated in the center of the
Cit, slowed his steps; he felt he was on his ground. The night was profoundly dark; torrential
rain was falling; strong gusts of wind and rain beat the walls. In the distance, the clock of the
Palais de Justice struck ten pm. Some women hiding under the dark, arched porches, deep as
caves, were singing some popular refrains, very low. The man we have been talking about must
have known one of those creatures, since, suddenly stopping in front of her, he seized her arm.
Bonsoir, Chourineur.
That man, a habitual criminal, was nicknamed that in jail,
Is that you, Goualeuse? asked the man wearing the cheap outer blouse; Youre
going to give me money, or Ill make you danse without violins.
I dont have any money, said the woman, trembling, because that man inspired great
terror in the area.
If your pocketbook is empty, the ogress of the Tapis Franc will give you credit based on
your good looks.
Mon Dieu! I owe her for the clothes Im wearing.
Ah! Youre hesitating? shouted the Chourineur. And in the shadows he hit that
unfortunate woman with his fist, a blow so violent that she cried out in great pain. Thats all,
my girl; thats for the future
Scarcely had the thief said these words than he yelled out a terrible curse. Ive been
struck in the wings; you scratched me with your scissors. Furious, he began to chase the
Goualeuse into the dark alley.
Dont come any closer, or Ill put out your eyes with my scissors,she said in a
determined tone. I havent done anything to you; why did you hit me?
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Ill tell you, shouted the thief, still advancing in the darkness. Ah! Ive got you!
And youre going to dance! he added, seizing the thin and frail wrist in his large, strong hands.
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Youre the one whos going to dance! said a male voice.
A man! Is that you Bras-Rouge? Answer and dont squeeze me so hard. I came into the
alley of your housethat must be you
This is not Bras-Rouge, the voice said.
All right, since its not a friend, it must mean a bloody nose. But whats this little paw
Im holding?
Its one just like this one.
Under the soft, delicate skin of that hand which had suddenly seized him by the throat,
the Chourineur felt nerves and muscles of steel.
A fight begins between the Chourineur and the unknown defender of the Goualeuse.
The Gouleuse, having taken refuge at the back of the alley, had slowly climbed up several steps.
She stopped a moment, and shouted, addressing her unknown defendant:
Ah! Thank you Monsieur, for having taken my side. The Chourineur hit me because I
didnt pay him deau de vie. I took revenge, but I couldnt hurt him very much with my little
scissors. Now that Im safe, turn him loose. Take care of yourself; thats the Chourineur.
That man inspires a great deal of fear!
Yes, but didnt you hear me? I told you he was the Chourineur, the Goualeuse
repeated.
And I am a scoundrel who isnt a coward, said the unknown man.
Then everyone was silent. They listened for a few moments and heard the sound of a
fierce fight.
Do you want me to kill you? shouted the robber, while making a violent effort to
shake off his adversary that he found had extraordinary strength. Good, good, good, youre
going to pay for the Gouleuse and for youself, he added, grinding his teeth.
Well pay fist blows as money, yes, answered the unknown man.
If you dont turn loose of my scarf, Im going to bite your nose, murmured the
Chourineur in a stifled voice.
My nose is too small, my man. You cant see too clearly.
Then will you come under the streetlight?
Come, replied the unknown man, well look each other in the whites of the eyes,
and coming close to the Chourineur, that he still held by the collar, he forced him backward to
the door of the alley and pushed him violently into the street, palely lit by the streetlight. The
robber stumbled but righted himself immediately. He jumped furiously against the unknown
man, whose frame, very svelte and very slim, didnt seem to feel the incredible force with which
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he had been hit. The Chourineur, although of an athletic constitution and in good physical shape,
like a boxer, had, as they say, met his master. The unknown man passed his leg like a grappling
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hook between the Chourineurs legs with marvelous dexterity and threw him backward twice.
Still not willing to admit his adversarys superiority, the Chourineur returned to the
charge, bellowing with rage. The Gouleuses defender, briskly changing his methods, rained
down on the robbers head a shower of fist blows as harshly delivered as with an iron gauntlet.
These fist blows, worthy of being delivered by Jack Turner, one of the most famous
boxers in London, were in addition so outside his experience that the Chourineur was doubly
staggered. For the third time the robber fell like a bull on the pavement, murmuring, I give up!
If he gives up, dont finish him off; take pity on him, said the Gouleuse, who, during
the fight, had hazarded coming to the alley of Bras-Rouges house. Then she added with
astonishment, Who are you? Except for Matre dEcole, there is nobody, from the Rue Saint-
Eloi to Notre Dame, capable of beating Chourineur. I thank you very much, Monsieur. If it
hadnt been for you, he would have killed me.
The unknown man, instead of responding to that woman, listened attentively to her
voice. His ears had never heard a sweeter, fresher, more silver voice. He tried to see the
Gouleuses features; he couldnt; the night was too dark; the streetlight was too pale.
After having remained immobile for several minutes, the Chourineur moved his legs, his
arms, and finally stood up.
Watch out! the Gouleuse cried out again, taking refuge once more in the alley,
pulling her protector by the arm. Be careful! He may want to take revenge.
Dont worry, my daughter. If he wants some more, I have enough to give him.
The brigand heard those words.
I have a headache,he said to the unknown man. Ive had enough for today; another
time I wont say that I havent, if I happen to run into you.
Havent you had enough? Are you complaining? shouted the unknown man in a
threatening voice.
No, no, Im not complaining. Youre the younger man who has the winning card,
said the brigand in a surly tone, with a sort of respectful consideration that physical force
imposes on people like that. You bested me. Except for the Matre dEcole, who could eat
three Alcides 13 for lunch, nobody, up until now, could brag he had put his foot on my head.
Sue then reconciles his characters. The Chourineur suggests they go to a near-by tavern
for food, for which the unknown man, as winner of the fight, will pay. He agrees and as they
walk there, they are followed. The robber and the Gouleuse are the first to enter, the unknown
man following them. The man following the trio, speaks, in English, to the unknown man,
saying, Your grace should take care! The unknown man shrugged and joined his
companions. The man who had spoken remained at the door listening attentively.
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Alcides - Hercules
And so, with violent weather and violent men, Sue begins Les Mystres de Paris. As he
has warned the reader, his narration is filled with criminals, misfits, and cruelty. The reader
learns that the unknown defender is an English nobleman in disguise.
The entry into The Wandering Jew is no less mystifying, violent and morbid. The story
unfolds in the Preface, in September, on the Bering Strait, a world away from the Paris of Les
Mystres de Paris. No human being seems to be able to endure the solitude of these desolate
regions which do not belong to the habitable world. Here, in terrible cold, stones break apart,
trees fall to earth, and the ground opens up. Sue writes: At the ultimate limits of the two
continents divided by the Bering Strait, on the side of the American land, the imprint of small,
light footprints, announce the passing of a woman. She is walking toward the hills from where
there can be seen.the Steppes of Siberia. From the Siberian side, larger, deeper footprints
announce the passage of a man.Something even stranger! That man and that woman have
walked across that solitude during a terrible storm.These two travelers have faced that furious
tempest which uprooted huge trees, which shook the mountains of ice, which threw them mass
against mass with the noise of thunder.Who are these two beings who walk calmly through the
convulsions and upheavals of nature?
Sue begins to answer that question in the next section, Chapter I of Part I. The opening is
set in the White Falcon Inn at the end of October, 1831, in a huge loft filled with weapons of
destruction and torture. The lower section of the loft is filled with wild and dangerous beasts. Sue
describes the loft, which has only one window and it is closed to light. He writes: Here and there,
thrown haphazardly on the floor are iron chains, neck yokes with sharp points, a circle of
iron to be affixed to a horses nose, muzzles studded with nails, long steel rods with wooden fists
at the end, Placed in a corner was a portable stove like those plumbers use to smelt pewter.
Charcoal was piled over dry wood shavings. A spark was enough to ignite that hot coal fire.
Not far from that jumble of sinister instruments which resembled the paraphernalia of an
executioner, were some weapons belonging to a distant age. A mail coat, with rings at the same
time so flexibles, so fine, so tight together that they looked like supple steel tissue, was spread
out on a chest beside leg protectors and iron arm pieces in good condition, in supple material,
leather, heavy cloth, used to tie on or hold them together. A mass of weapons, two long
triangular pikes with ash handles, both solid and lightweight at the same time, on which recent
bloodstains could be seen, complete that panoplysomewhat brought up to date by two
Tyrolean carbines, cocked and ready to fire.
To that arsenal of murderous, barbarous weapons, there was strangely mingled a
collection of very different objects. There were small glass cases holding rosaries, chaplets,
medals, some Agnus Deiimages of saints; finally, a number of those books printed in
Fribourg on heavy, bluish paper recounting various modern miracles.and finally for the years
1831-1852 the most frightening predictions against impious and revolutionary France.
A second man enters the loft, bringing news of the three travelers introduced in the
Prologue. They have obviously been awaited by the beast master and his informant. Two of the
travelers are innocent sisters, Blanche and Rose Rennepont, orphans, descendants of Joseph the
14

Jew, accompanied by their faithful guardian, Dagobert, friend of the Rennepont family.
Page
A large painting, showing indications of having been rolled up for many years, holds
inscriptions detailing the religious life of the Jew Moroh, the Wandering Jew. Sues story is
based very loosely, and is, in fact, used only as a point of departure for his story, on a medieval
legend that a Jew, for punishment, having denied succor to the Christ carrying his cross on the
way to his crucifixion, would be condemned to wander the earth until converted to Christianity,
or until the end of time, depending on the version of the story. In fact, Sues story does not
depend on the Jew of the legend, who disappears very early from the narrative. Instead, it
recounts the intrigues of the Jesuits in their attempts to gain control of the fabulous inheritance of
a protestant, driven to suicide by torture. Confronting them, the wandering Jew and his female
counterpart, Herodiade, become the guardian angels of the rightful descendants, who are their
last seven descendants, dispersed throughout the world. However, the legitimate heir is the
nephew of Joseph the Jew, the son of his sister who married a Huguenot, a protestant,
Rennepont.
In the 17th century the seven descendants were given a bronze medal holding the
following place and date: Paris, February 13, 1632/ At Paris Rue Saint Franois, No. 3, in a
century and a half, September 13, 1832. The descendants, dispersed throughout the universe, are
to meet in Paris at that locale and at that date, but do not know why.
The story continues through more than 1,700 pages, adding intriguing digressions,
complicated characters, and interesting villains.
These short excerpts are from Sues most important works. However, he began his career
writing sea stories based on his experience as a young man. At first well received, since sea
stories were then a rarity, they lost popularity and were over-shadowed by his later works. They
are, however, an interesting insight into his later works, his theory of literature, and to social
issues, such as poverty and slavery. Following is an introduction to his first sea story and a
translation of Chapter I.

ATAR-GULL
A Corsaire
(The Parisian at Sea
Travels and Adventures at Sea
Of Narcisse Gelin)
A
LA MMOIRE DE
MON GRAND-PRE
FEU M. LE CHEVALIER JOSEPH SUE
15

Professeur lcole Royale de Peinture


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Et Sculpture
Membre de lAcadmie Royale
Des Beaux Arts
Conseiller et Censeur Royal.
After his dedication to his grandfather, Sue appends a long letter to James Fenimore
Cooper replying to Coopers letter congratulating him on his first novel. He writes: Forgive me,
Monsieur, for answering publicly the very flattering letter that you have kindly written to me
about my first novel,but feeling the need to give some explanations about this new book, I
thought they would acquire a great deal more importance and value in being addressed to you, to
you, Monsieur, who have created the maritime novel in such an original and imaginative way
that you share with Gothe, Byron, Schiller and Walter Scott the rare and precious privilege of
being one of the models for foreign and contemporary literature.
You will perhaps find, Monsieur, that I very much abused, in Atar-Gull, that license
you allow us to commit flagrant and atrocious murders to excite the sensitivity of the reader; but
I debated with myself in vain about the fatal influence of the terrible subject that I have
embraced, and, like Macbeth of Shakespeare, my ferocity has had no limits, because a crime was
the reason, the logical result of another crime. So, Monsieur, I am very afraid of seeming a
terrible man, taking pleasure in horror.
(Sue here comes to the subject of the first of his sea stories: An African Negro, son of a
King of an African tribe, is sold into slavery. Once escaped, he avenges himself by becoming a
pirate. Sue begins his story by introducing his first character, giving a description of a Slave
trader and its crew. He uses the first chapter tor depict the character of the first mate, Simon, and
that of the Captain of the Catherine, his ship, named for his wife. The second chapter describes a
sudden storm which almost capsizes the Catherine.)
However, in favor of that too exact painting (I think.) of the treatment of Blacks, of their
slavery and its results, I have wished, not to raise a bastard and outworn debate about rights
that several contest, but actually state facts, numbers, by means of which each adversarial party
will be able to establish its books. ----Only the summing up remains to be done.
Sue continues his letter with digressions concerning his maritime travels and stories of
people he met. He insists that a story unfolds in various ways through a series of characters
rather through the limited experience of a single character, the usual way in Coopers tales of the
American Indian. He says: I know, Monsieur, that a prodigious talent would be needed to
produce that result, to keep the reader interested in a character during a third of the action, and
suppose then to make that character disappear and bring the interest back to the one replacing
him in order to arrive to the denouement of the work.
He ends his letter saying: I dare believe, Monsieur, that you will not see in all this the
least idea of founding any kind of theory. I am anticipating criticism which could, justly,
reproach me for having tried to put in relief in this book three characters instead of one on
whom all the readers attention must be concentrated.
Beginning with Chapter 3, after the storm, Sue starts his story of the slave trade. Though
16

Sue did not insist on founding a theory, the method of development he used here, three
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characters contributing to his narration, his method, new then, frequently used today, is, in fact,
the usual one of TV and Hollywood series. In fact, some years after the publication of Atar-
Gull, his contemporary, Charles Rabou, in a series of novels, The Cabinet Noir, or The
Secret Bureau, used three intertwined characters and many digressions with additional
characters, appearing, disappearing, then resuming their function over a period of years in a
series of four novels.
Atar-Gull
BOOK I
CHAPTER I
CATHERINE
Never children, never a spouse!
No heart has beaten near mine;
Never a jealous mouth
Has asked ne: Where have you been?
VICTOR HUGO -ODE XXI, t.2
---Where is anyone any better
Than in the bosom of his family?
Old Song

You see that brick; it glides very timidly over the tropical sea because that light and
unsteady breeze can scarcely fill its large gray sails. Hear the dull and melancholy sound of the
ocean. You would say that it was the confused noise of a great city awakening. You see how
the waves lift themselves at long intervals and calmly unfold their immense rings; sometimes a
white quivering foam jumps from the translucent top of two waves meeting each other, striking
each other, rising together and falling in humid flakes after a light shock. Oh! how shining and
pearly is that fringe of foam which breaks apart on the side of the frigate, on the copper of the
shining hull in golden reflections in the middle of the green limpid waters! How softly the sun
shines across those sails which project their trembling shadows in the distance. And by the angel
of Saint Peter, thats a courageous ship, that one is, that rocks sluggishly on a lazy sea, seeming
to play there like a sea bream in good weather. With a breath of that small breeze, it continues
peacefully on its way, probably from Europe, toward the south-east, where it will unload all its
cargo, since its sailing with its ballast, and its ballast line is showing about two feet of copper
above the water.
On board, there is excessive heat. Everything is clean, shining, rubbed down. There is
admirable order there, a minute arrangement of the most exact details. It resembles one of those
carefully waxed mahogany counters, the pride and joy of a respectable maker of hosiery. The
17

windows, open to the breeze, brought into the little dunette 14 a current of strong, fresh air which
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14
A small room at the rear of the bridge.
lifted the pretty Persian cloth curtains and a huge mosquito net, the light folds of which
surrounded a hammock. That little cabins furnishings are very simple: two chairs, some
mathematical instruments, a megaphone, a trunk, a table on wheels, and on the table two glasses
and a jug of Dutch gin. Above, there is a picture of a fat, chubby woman smiling at a fat enfant
who is offering a rose (I think) to her. In the background of the picture there is an angora cat, its
eye alert, his paw in the air, playing with a reel of cotton. What a portrait! What a woman! What
a child! What a rose! What a cat!. All that tasteless and colorless, false and rough, ugly, stiff.
However, there is something inexplicably nave in the painting which is not without charm, that
that rough scene, there is something that can be recognized of the good nature of a happy and
gay woman, and even in that fat enfant, red like his rose, everything seems to breathe happiness
and joy. Above the picture, carefully hanging on a nail there is an old, wilted wreath of flowers.
The ships crew, prostrated by the heat, had probably retired out of the sun, and
everything on board was asleep, except the sailor at the helm and three other sailors at the foot of
the main mast. The helmsman the rang eight times a little bell placed near him, and shouted with
a loud voice: Come on, all of you; raise the fourth. The noise caused by that maneuver
probably woke the inhabitant of the dunette, because the mosquito net moved. Coughing, moving
about, grumbling, were heard and a man came out, yawning, after having rubbed his eyes twenty
times. That was Monsieur Benoit (Claude-Borrome-Martial) captain and owner of the ship
Catherine, three hundred tons, double coated and strongly reinforced with copper. Monsieur
Benoit (Claude-Borrome-Martial) was short, plump, very sunburned, a little bald. He had a big
red nose, thick lips, a receding chin, full and smooth cheeks, and clear little blue eyes which
expressed perfect calm; in short, he had really the most honest physiognomy in the world. A
jacket and stripped cloth trousers made up all his dress. And, after he had put a cotton madras
scarf, covered his graying head with a large straw hat, he came out from his dunette, his face
calm and reposed, smiling, satisfied, his hands folded behind his back..Its true, if it hadnt
been for the devouring sun of the Equator which made the Ocean shine like a mirror, the stifling
heat, and the ships moving deck,Monsieur Benoit could be taken for a countryman,
smelling the perfumed morning air in his grove of linden trees in bloom, going to sit down in his
cool garden to breathe at his ease the good odor of his jasmines glistening with dew drops.
Well, boy, he said to the helmsman, pinching him jokingly on the ear, Is the
Catherine moving along like a respectable young lady in front of her mother? (Because
Monsieur Benoits comparisons were always chaste.)
Yes, Captain, but shes twisting like swaying hips, the bad thing. Seewhat
rollingand that other.
Ah, damn, my boy, if we had some quintal of iron in our hold, she would be steady, that
poor Catherine. But when we get our load of merchandise you will see her no longer move about
any more than the linen armoire that I have in my little dining room at Nantes where I entertain
my friends, the good Captain said naively, stifling a sigh of regret. At that moment, a tall,
skinny man descended from the cable-held bridges of the foresails and jumped to the bridge.
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I didnt see it anymore, he said to Captain Benoit, handing him his spy glass. She
must have been hidden in the fog, because that devil of a fog is becoming thick.and the sun,
hein.
The fact is, Monsieur Simon, the sun is like the country oven that Catherine heats up to
toast the macaroni that I like so much.(Here a new sigh.) But that schooner.., she bothers
me.
Disappeared, Captain, disappeared; I was at first afraid that it might be a war schooner,
but, no, a tall ship with rigging like the mop of hair of a dirty ships boy. Top sails and top
gallant mast that would make the good God capsize if he came aboard.and.
SimonSimonyoure starting again. I dont like to hear you blaspheme like a pagan.
Youre philosophizing, and that will cause you trouble.You ll see.
All right, good, quiet about it, but I tell you, that schooner is not at all a warship, for
sure. Besides, English and French warships never visit this side of the line. So, dont fear
anything.
I dont fear anything either. I have chosen this side of the line on purpose because I
dont have any competitors. My business isnt going bad any more. One or two more days and
we will see Pre Van-HopHes becoming as sly as the Devil. For example, the ebony wood is
becoming more expensive. Ah! theyre gone, the good old days when, for a few cases of junk I
filled my ship so full you couldnt know where to put your foot.
Then, said Simon, you didnt care anything about the waste.
A third, Simon, always a third wasted because of the humidity and the heat, because,
you see, the ebony wood had to spend their time in the fake bridge below deck.
So, Captain, what was left was fabulous!! They could be sold to the Jamaicans to make
pickaxes and carriages, without being afraid they would break., Simon said, laughing.
Joker,.and nevertheless that is something always very much in demand by the
gentlemen of the colonies.
Well! Captain, if you believe that it doesnt take more time to grow the hemp than to use
it once it is twisted into ropes for riggingand that the good God has only to whistle to.
Ah! Simon, again! Will you never stop?...Youre going to bring something down on us
from up above; be quiet. Come instead and talk about Catherine and drink a swallow of gin.
The captain and his second lieutenant went into the dunette and sat down at the table.
See, Simon, said Benoit, pointing to the picture which ornamented the little room,
look there; you would believe that Catherine is looking at us, and Thomas , isnt that just like
him! Right up to Moumouth, who seems to recognize me with his paw lifted. And that wreath
there that they gave me on my birthdayto Saint ClaudePoor dear lovesI am thinking about
you. And he sighed deeply, the worthy man!
19

The fact is, Captain, that you can decidedly pride yourself on being a family man, said
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the other one with the air of its being a firm conviction.
So, once this trip is over, Benot continued, I will plant my cabbages; since, after all,
me, what do I want,? Im not ambitious. Ah! Mon Dieu! A little white house with green shutters,
and a group of acacia trees under which to dine with a couple of friends and my dear
Catherine..my dear wife. And Captain Benoits eyes were shining with pleasure in looking
with love at the portrait that he was calling his spouse.
Theres also, Captain, your wifeAh! your spouse is worthy of being lovedshe has,
Sacredieu!, a pair of bossiers 15 that..
Simon! Ah! Simon!
Pardon, Captain; its the gin; its strong and goes to the head. Speaking of gin, Captain,
..But look out there, what beautiful weather! That rejoices the heart..Speaking of gin, its
said, and Im sure of it, that there is nothing better for the health than to boil a pine cone stuck
with a dozen hot peppers, a big fist full of Cayenne peppers, in some tafia. 16 Mix that with the
rum or genivre, 17 and Mordieu, 18 Captain, that would make you regret not having a bigger
throat, one big as a windsock, to swill down waves of it.
By Jove!, 19 that must scratch a little, Benoit said, shaking his head. (Pardon him for
that swear word, By Jove! 1); thats the only one he allowed himself.)
Not at all, Captain, its as smooth as velvet; its as soft as the down of a seagull, a balm
for the stomachI knew a quartermaster, a man named Bequet,who cured himself with that
when he had a bad sore throat that he caught in Terre-Neuve.
That, now thats about as true as that Catherine has only one eye. To your health,
Simon, my boy.
Dont believe me, if you want to.and to yours, Captain. But look at what beautiful
weather.
Thats a fact, Simon. What beautiful calm! Its almost cool. Oh! what a beautiful
sun.To your healthWeather like this, you see, makes you want to take a drink.
Captain, that is for the bodyput on it a sponge heated in the sun, and you will see what
happens. To yours.
Ah! Simonyoure what gives me the effect of the sponge, because you soak it up
nicely, responded master Benoit, who was becoming very happy, he couldnt be any happier.
Say then, Simon.
Captain.
If you agree, and if Pre Van-Hopp doesnt skin me too much, when we return from
Jamaica, well relax somewhere.

15
Bossiers slang term for a womans breasts.
16
Tafia a drink like rum distilled from molasses and waste from the production of brown sugar.
20

17
Genivre Dutch rum
18
Mordieu! blasphemous swearword from Mort de Dieu ---Gods death.
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19
Bigre mild oath, equivalent to oh, my, or gosh.
And in speaking that way about traveling across almost one-quarter of the globe, the
good man didnt give it any more importance than if he had said: When we return from the
suburbs, if Ive made a good business deal, well take a drink in a tavern.
True.really true?On my word, Simon, and thentwo or three good days...some
silliness, Benoit said in a low and mysterious voice, half covering his mouth with his left hand.
Thats right, Captain, some extravagant madness; well laugh; Ill spend my pay in two
days; well have carriages, women, oranges, gloves, stockings, watch chains, a beaver hat,
trouser suspenders, youll see.
Thats right, and go on, Benoit added, half drunk, striking the table with his goblet.
And even more; well have a good time What beautiful weather!....Ah! ouf! But Catherine
shouldnt find out about it.bigre !!!!
Pardon, Captain, I certainly believe thatto her health.Well relax in CadixAh!
Captain.Captain, I see you already on the Saint-Antonio Square. Thunderation!...Thats where
there are women! with eyes big as ..and teeth.Ah! bah! have to enjoy life sitting on the mast
platform.
Thats true, Simon. From one day to the next one can avaler sa gaffe. 20Youre right
to!....
At that moment, the captain was interrupted by a hellish noise, and the ship gave such a
lurch on the port side that the boom of the lower sails plunged a foot into the water. Benoit and
Simon were so little expecting that violent jolt that they were thrown onto the partition.
Theres a wind change, shouted, Benoit, totally sobered, and rushing outside the
dunette:
That tells us theres a storm coming.Thats how were going to have a good time.
Simon said, following his Captain.

CHAPTER II
THE STORM

Fortunate sailor! Your life is disturbed in such an exciting way; just a moment before,
sunshine, gently rocking, like that of the image a young Indian woman on a print who hides her
21

sons cradle among potato vines climbing to the top of the red flowers of apios trees.Then, no
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20
Avaler sa gaffe marine slang term for meet ones death.--
care, soft laziness, a disjointed, capricious and vagabond conversation; then the gay memories of
land, the old songs of your fatherland, and a bottle of that hot Dutch rum that cheers the heart so
much and pours forth waves of poetry, because poetry, to you, good sailor, thats hope! The hope
to see in the future battles where you are the victor, a huge orgy, your ship anchored safely
asleep while you sow piasters on the ground, the gourdes, the onces, the moidors, and what
else, me, I dont knowBecause in truth you have legal tender of all kinds, good man. Heaven
knows where you get it. Finally, the Dutch rum shows you all that through its prism, yellow and
shining like topaz. You stab your enemy, you clutch your gold, you kiss the cheeks of a pretty
girl You have chequins, pezques.. enough of them, By God! Enough to buy frilly dresses like
the wife of a admiral. Make yourself beautiful and give me your arm.
But suddenly the sky becomes dark. The Ocean roars; the wind growls. Leave your glass
there, half full; dont finish either your project or your song, or your smile, and confront death,
because it is threatening.
Now, also aboard the Catherine they were generally of the opinion that it was
threatening. The crew stood on the bridge, sad, silent, because they were not yet in the middle of
the peril. They were waiting; they were seeing it coming, and that awareness of an approaching
inevitable danger had sobered all faces.

The crew, sad, silent, came up to the bridge. They were not yet in the strongest part of the
peril. They were waiting; they were watching it coming, and that knowledge an approaching
danger had darkened all the expressions.

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23
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VOLUME III

PAUL FEVAL and MILE GABORIAU

PAUL FVAL
Paul-Henri-Corentin Fval)
BIOGRAPHY

1816-1887
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Prior to attacking Fval, Mirecourt accuses Alexandre Dumas of doing nothing but

operating a novel factory, maintaining that he hired other writers to work on aspects of the works

he claimed as his own.. He said: If the firm Alexandre Dumas and company had interrupted its

commercial operation, the writer (Fval), still young, whose life this account is going to trace,

would have been capable of furnishing, by himself, and without the help of others pens, a good

part of the clientele of that immense novel factory.

Paul Feval is a literary locomotive, who had Antoine Joli as a stoker and who picked up

speed, thanks to the coal from the Courier Franais and the Epoque.

But lets not get ahead of our story.

The author of Les Mystres de Londres was born in the old capital of Britanny,

November 28, 1817. His teachers confirm that he had very little taste for books, a great passion

for sports, and a firmly established habit of playing truant.

He was placed while still young in the Rennes secondary school. Fval didnt make a big

scholarly splash. He was a puny and sickly child, too weak to stand up under the blows brought

about by his penchant for mockery. His teachers didnt like him at all; his fellow students beat

him endlessly. His memories of that time he reproduced in a bitterly comic tone. The story of that

good Mister Quandoquidem, author of Cours de thmes, and of Tournoures lgantes lusage

des lves du seconde, is an amusing and crazy story.

Disdaining ordinary names, he gave Roman names to those offspring, as numerous as

they were ruddy. This noble pedagogue never asked for food or drink with the usual words in

such a case, and full of dignity in the exercise of his functions, if he ordered Fval to bend over,
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he was careful, even for such a simple command, not to deviate from the system of the

Tournoures lgantes.

Prostrate yourself, he would order, into the proper position for a guilty person.

When the July Revolution broke out, Paul was beginning his thirteenth year. Seeing his

professor and his fellow students wearing the tri-colored cockade, the imprudent student, his

head fueled by family inspiration, decided to attach an enormous white cockade to his hat. Up

until that point he had shown himself somewhat cowardly in his quarrels the other students

picked with him. But this time, political excitement inspired him with truly extraordinary

courage. Despite the repeated commands, followed by a shower of blows, Fval didnt remove

his cockade.

Unable to fight back against the big rascals of the upper secondary school, he showed his

heroism by not protecting his back without complaint and to receiving all the clouts they judged

proper to administer to him. This intrepid Carlist was removed from the school by his mother,

without which removal France would have had to weep about the fate of another victim of July.

Madame Fval took Paul to an old manor house belonging to a member of the family and lost in

the depths of Morbihan.

It was different there. Our young adversary of the cadet branch fell into the middle of the

clandestine Chouan agitations. The chateau served as a place of rendezvous for the

conspirators. They assembled there at night; they smelted ammunitions there. The men seemed

resolute, impatient to act, and in that country Frondethe women showed themselves even more

excited.
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That mystery, those dangers, those alerts, strongly influenced Pauls mind. He obtained

the promise of a carbine to go fight the blues, dreaming only of battles, thinking only about

massacres, he took it into his head one fine evening to insult the police, who had come for a

household visit. The good gendarmes seized that snotty-nosed kid by the ear and then took him to

his mother. She ordered him to behave. None of those Chouans warrior projects came about, and

the chateau returned to peace and quiet.

Britanny inflamed its childrens imagination at an early age by means of political and

religious faith, by the traditions of chivalry, old stories from the chronicles or legends told by the

hearth to which everyone listened at that hour when the lamp, its oil used up, was about to go

out, when the whistling wind outside seemed to strike the high windows with the mysterious

wings of ghosts. It has been more or less a half century since this strange land ventured into

civilized domains and the number of story-tellers that it has furnished to our literature is already

considerable. Between Chateaubriand and Fval, God knows how many could be listed here.

The hero of this biography, as those who came before him, came to us one day, his head stuffed

with native legends. He told us what had been said to him over there under the vast and dark

cloak of the fireplace: LHistoire de la femme blanche; that of the Bonnehomme misre, of the

Joli Chateau de coquerelles; of the Belles de nuit, and of the Marchal de Raiz, that implacable

and barbaric husband that the fair sex must curse. Thanks to Paul Fval we know that Barbe

bleu is of Armorican origin.

When our thirteen-year-old student left the evening vigil to go to his bedroom, he had a

head filled with terrors and went to bed feverish. If the servant brought up a light, Paul felt a

shiver run through his whole body; his teeth chattered, and he seemed to see his bed surrounded
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by candles and sad voices reciting funereal verses from the De Profundis at his bedside. A
strange thing, one of the female cousins who had occupied the bedroom before him, had had

similar visions. As midnight sounded, she saw seven candles placed in a cross in the middle of

the floor. Deep sighs came from the walls. She believed she was hearing a commandment from

the next world. Young, beautiful, rich, loved, she became a nun.

Paul Fval returned to school in 1831 and remained there until 1833, still puny, still

sickly, still a mocker and still beaten. He still kept in his heart the memory of the whacks his

comrades had meted out to him. In order to make up in the present for what was given to him in

the past, he dreamed that he slapped the face of those he had a complaint against. The novelist

very seriously persuaded himself that he was a chief arm-breaker and scourge.

His family was an ancient family of barristers, and he was expected to become a member

of the bar. The Baron de Ltange, his grandfather, was Attorney General of the Royal Court at

Rennes, and his father, an honorable and learned magistrate, a lawyer at the same Court, died in

1827. But magistrates of integrity dont become rich. The Fval household was poor and his

mother couldnt affort the expense of her sons education. Suddenly, Providence, in the envelope

of a letter written by the Chevalier Fval, a banking consultant, sent three thousand francs to

pay for Pauls legal studies.

Except for a prize for excellence, barely achieved in the second form, he hadnt attained

any great success in school. His too lively imagination kept him from serious work. All the dull

commentaries of Cujasdampened his enthusiasm but very little. He, nevertheless, secured a place

at the examinations, received a degree, finished his probationary period, and there he was,

perfectly free to practice the legal profession. Paul wasnt lacking anything but oratorical skill
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and a client.
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His first case wasnt long in coming, a magnificent case! He was charged with defending

a Haut-Breton villager accused of stealing a dozen chickens, complicated by a charge of

breaking and entering. Fval mentally reviewed all his law books had taught him about

Demosthenes harangues, When the great day arrived, he presented the thiefs defense with

solemn gravity, and in the most pompous language. Quandoquidem would have been delighted.

Pauls argument was divided into three parts, but in the middle of the first one, the judges

were suddenly seized with hilarity.

Enough, Monsieur Paul, enough, the presiding judge said. The case is understood.

Good, thought Paul. Im making them laugh; theyre disarmed.

What do you have to add to your defense? the presiding judge asked the village

amateur of thefts of other peoples property.

Perhaps excited by his lawyers success, and wanting to amuse the judges in his turn, the

guilty man began a knowledgeable and very complete dissertation on the art of stealing hens

without alerting anyone. Fval, from his bench, motioned to him in vain. The stubborn country

man didnt understand them or didnt want to understand them. He developed his curious theory

to the magistrate, to the audience, and to the gendarmes and paid no attention to his defenders

distressed pantomime.

Marveling at the thiefs knowledge, but judging it not fitting to let him explain the

doctrines thus in public, the court gave him the maximum sentence. Fval tore up his jurist robes

in despair, threw his toque to the winds, and turned his eyes toward Paris. It was there that he
30

must avenge the humiliation done to his eloquence, and shine in another career, that of
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literature, for which he felt a decided taste.


But it was impossible that anyone could come to efficiently help in those new

undertakings. Paul had drawn from the bottom of the conscription urn a detestable number.

Buying a replacement had exhausted the last maternal resources, and the business consultant at

the banking center would not help his second cousin desert the bar for literature.

What did that matter? At twenty-years-old, with a Breton head, there are no obstacles.

In his imaginative, pseudo-biography of Fval, Mirecourt was more generous and less

critical than in most of those in Les Contemporains. Fvals actual biography confirms most of

Mirecourts information. His father, a lawyer, descended from a Royalist line of lawyers, died

early, leaving an impoverished wife who had difficulty affording an adequate legal education for

Fval. A distant cousin supplied money for Fvals education in the law. He became a member

of the bar, but lost his first case and his enthusiasm for the law. He took a position in a bank, but

he lasted fewer than two months there. Everything he contributed to editors for publication was

declined. Finally, thanks to introductions from Rennes, Catholic and Royalist publications began

accepting his works. . His success there brought him to the interest of important Paris

publications such as the Revue de Paris and Le Courrier franais.

If Eugne Sues life was filled with excitement, travel, luxury, and politics, Fvals life

was filled with almost uninterrupted work. During his productive period, he wrote more than

ninety works. Some estimates, depending on the publication, credit him with more than two

hundred, and some were continued by his son, Paul Fval fils. Although he became one of the

most successful of the feuilletonists, and at one time had a comfortable fortune, there was a

constant drain on his resources, necessitating a nine to ten- hour work day.
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He was asked to translate an English serial, The Mysteries of London, for French serial

publication, The English work had capitalized on the popularity of Sues Les Mystres de Paris.

The English series had three authors: series one and two were by George W. M. Reynolds; series

three was by Thomas Miller; series four was by Edward Blanchard. However, it was decided the

French translated version was not publishable. Recomposed, Les Mystres de Londres appeared

in 1843-1844 under the authorship of Sir Francis Trolopp, a pseudonym for Fval.

Acknowledged as the author, Fval achieved immediate success as a feluilletonist. With the

serial publication of Le Bossu in Le Sicle, Fval became, and remained, the dominant

feuilletonist in France until 1870. Concerned for the welfare of a growing family (8 children in

all), Fval invested all of his fortune, considerable for the times, in Turkish bonds. They failed

and were worthless. Bankrupt, his family in desperate straits, his popularity waning, Fval

retreated to Rennes for six years. He suffered from depression, but his return to the Catholicism

of his youth returned him to work. He abjured his swashbuckling novels, his mysteries, his

stories of international conspiracies, and produced edifying works. From 1882 he was seriously

ill and partially paralyzed. He was cared for and died at the hospice of the Brothers of Saint-

Jean-de Dieu, rue Oudinet, Paris, March 8, 1887.

Beginning with Les Mystres de Londres, Feval wrote and published most of the forms of

the roman-feuilleton. Examples are: the swashbuckling cape and sword, Le Bossu; mysteries of

metropolitan areas, Les Habits noir and Les Mystres de Londres; fantasy, Le Vampire; and

stories from the folklore of his native Britanny, Le Loup blanc. Possibly among the best known

and most read of Fvals works are Les Mystres de Londres, Le Bossu, and Les Habits Noirs.

The Mysteries of London


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Fvals opening scenes in his Les Mystres de Londres are very different from Sues in

Les Mystres de Paris. The violent weather and characters of Sues story are missing. Instead,

the plot opens in a pub situated near the wharves of the Thames in foggy London weather. Seated

in the pub are a blind man, Tyrrel, an occasional visitor to the pub; the pubs owner, Mistress

Burnet; a sailor, Paddy Ochrane, a regular client of the pub, who with his men is engaged in

contraband; and a beautiful, proud, Jewish girl, Susannah, treated as a barmaid and insulted by

Mistress Burnet. When Susannah, slapped by Mistress Burnett, leaves, the blind man follows,

learns that she is walking to the Thames to commit suicide, and that she was rich before her

father was hanged. Tyrrel offers her the opportunity to join a secret association which will make

her rich again.

Fval writes: Then becoming suddenly animated, she added in a vibrating voice, My

father was very rich before he was hanged! I learned to wear jewelry, to sing, to danse, to speak

the languages of the continent.

Is that true, Susannah? Are you telling the truth? Tyrrel questioned.

Im going to die, the young girl replied coldly.

The shifting light of some lamp lit in a neighboring house shone on the faces of these two

actors in that scene.

Susannahs exquisite features had again taken on their gloomy immobility. Tyrrels eyes,

on the contrary, were shining with a strange brilliance.

And if you were given back the life you led with your father, child? he asked.
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My life? My life? murmured the beautiful girl. My former life?


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I will give it back to you; I tell you.

She seemed to hesitate a moment; then, breaking away with a sudden movement, she

crossed the distance separating her from the water.

There have already been so many who have talked to me like that! No! My heart and my

body, all of that is his!

But I am asking you neither for your heart nor your body, child! Tyrrel shouted. Im

blind!

These words reached Joannahs ears just as she was already balancing, poised above the

water. She stepped backward.

Neither my heart, nor my body, she repeated. Blind! Then what do you want?

I want your will.

Susannah lowered her beautiful head to her breast.

One day, she murmured, I fell, dying of fatigue and hunger on the threshold of that

woman who has just struck me. In exchange for my liberty, she gave me bread, nothing but

bread! I could very well still be a servant. What is there to do?

From his pocket, Tyrrel took a very full purse that he put in Susannahs hands.

Wait, he said. Listen carefully to this. I am buying you, not for myself, who am very

weak, but for an association which is terrible and strong. I know you better than you know

yourself and know what you can do. Dont talk about our meeting: loyalty, obedience, passivity,
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those are your duties. Tonight, sleep wherever you like. Tomorrow, knock at the door indicated
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at this address (He gave her a card.).That door will open; you will enter; and you will give

orders, because that house will be yours. Goodbye, Susannah! You will see me again!

Feval breaks off Susannahs story here to introduce that of the dandy, the Marquis Rio

Santo, and, later, Sir Edward and Bob Lantern.

Susannah does as she was told. The next day she knocks at the door of No. 9 Wimpole

Street. The door is opened immediately. The servant asks if she would like to go into the drawing

room or to her apartments, adding Madame la Princess is in her own home here. Susannah

replies: I know that. Fval explains: The beautiful tavern girl received the title of Princess and

the marks of respects without showing the least signs of astonishment.

An elderly woman, introducing herself as the dowager Duchess of Gvres, tells Susannah

she is to be the widow of her dead nephew, Prince Philippe de Lanngueville, whose signet ring

bears the bar indicating that his ancestor was a royal bastard.

And so Fval begins his series of mysterious characters who are not what they seem to

be, and the mysterious associations to which they belong. The next chapter begins in the Temple

Church; the opening characters are a young doctor and his two female cousins. But there is also a

mysterious stranger, a handsome man, seemingly about thirty-years old. He appears to be there

only to luxuriate in the music. He is a model of suppleness and masculine vigor, tall, elegant, the

essence of aristocracy. He is remarkably handsome, despite the barely perceptible scar that runs

across his forehead.

The young doctor notices a badly clothed man, a thief, who seems intent on robbing and

murdering the handsome, aristocratic stranger. He intends to protect him, but in the shadows the
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two are lost from view. Feval explains: As the assassin approached the strangers bench, he
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heard a noise. He remained immobile; then by a slow continuous, imperceptible movement he

turned his head and saw a blackish mass advancing toward him. He still did not move, but in a

few seconds the thief showed himself and jumped forward, and his knife struck only the back of

a bench. When he tried to stand up, he found his wrist squeezed as if in a vice. The thief, letting

out a cry of pain, said: I didnt think there was but one wrist like that one. The two recognized

each other at the same time. The mysterious stranger said: Bob Lantern, And the thief, falling

on his knees: Grace! Your Honor, I didnt recognize you!

The reader is not immediately told the identity of the handsome stranger, nor is the new

status of Johanna immediately explained. Bob Lantern becomes a central character in the

following chapters.

THE BLACK COATS

Les Habit Noirs was originally published in eight volumes. In the Introduction to Part I of

the first volume, Fval reminds the reader that he has probably heard about the famous Maynotte

case that took place in Caen in 1825. He writes: Among famous law cases, the Maynotte affair is

one of the most curious and one of the least known. We therefore invite the curious who want to

know about it not to close the book; they will find in our work something other than a pure and

simple expose of that strange crime.

Fval first introduces several main characters: J.-B. Schwartz, a young penniless man

from Alsace; the traveling salesman, Monsieur Lecoq; and Andr Maynotte, the artisan, a

worker in metal, and his wife. The somewhat satiric description of the young Schwartz, from a

twenty-four child family (Six were twins.), come to the city to contact a relative, a Caen
36

Schwartz, for a job, may perhaps be the source of criticism of Fval as anti-Semitic. Turned
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down and turned away without dinner by the two Schwartz in the town, one the Police

Commissioner, Schwartz is enthusiastically greeted by Lecoq, an employee of Berthier and

Company, maker of safes, locks, etc. Lecoq, the traveling salesman, has just sold the local bank a

safe that is guaranteed to be proof against thieves. It held at that moment 400,000 francs. Both

the dress and the manner of Lecoq loudly proclaim the traveling salesman. Wearing checked

trousers, a very bright tie, and highly polished shoes, he greets Schwartz effusively. The young

Schwartz knows Lecoq by reputation and is somewhat wary. Nevertheless, Lecoq takes him to

his inn, feeds him a copious meal and after many drinks, tells him he has a job for him which

will pay one hundred francs cash. Schwartz is to take a message which will provide Lecoq with

an alibi covering his assignation with a married woman.

Schwartz continues to be wary, since the remuneration is greater than the errand he is to

be sent on is worth. Lecoq tells him: All right! All right! Were going to chat, I tell you. Theres

a formal agreement not to require you, my lord, to invent canon powder.

However, demurring, he finally agrees to take a message to the Police Commissioner,

who will be returning from an evening out at ten oclock. The first part of the message was to tell

the Police Commissioner that he was temporarily out of funds; that he had expected to meet his

fiend, M. Lecoq, with whom he had worked in Paris; but that M. Lecoq had already left. The rest

of the message Lecoq retained for later. Schwartz is to meet Lecoq out of town at 3:00 in the

morning.

Lecoq then leaves, deliberately leaving behind his cane with a silver head.

While J. B. Swartz waits to deliver his message, Lecoq drives some distance out of town,
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unhooks his horse from the carriage, quickly changes his beautiful checked trousers of the
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traveling salesman into the loose upper garment of the worker, trousers worn at the knee, and a

big red cap that he pulls down over his eyes. He then returns to Caen where he has a rendezvous

using his disguise.

Fval tells the reader: As Schwartz is making his way to meet Lecoq, he questions

Lecoqs motives and considers the possibility that Lecoq has been mocking him. However, a

fast-moving carriage appears behind him. Lecoq, the driver, yanks him into the carriage and they

continue full speed for some distance. When they halt, Schwartz questions Lecoq, who is in an

extremely good and joking mood and does not, or pretends not to, remember that Schwartz

errand involved a lovers meeting with a married woman. When Schwartz reminds him that

Lecoq owes him 100 francs, Lecoq offers him a 1,000 franc note, which Schwartz refuses to

take. Lecoq lets the bill flutter to the ground and tells Schwartz he should not try to use the 1,000

note in that area. He then drops on the ground money for living and travel expenses for the next

few days and departs.

Out of sight, Lecoq ties a rock to his workmans clothes and throws half of them in a

river and the other half in a farmers well.

Of Schwartz left standing in the road, Feval writes: He was honest, I tell you again,

scrupulously honest, to a certain degree and in a certain sense..The honesty of the Code of

Commerce is not that of chivalryJ. B. Schwartz was honest; he had a conscience.

The sight of that money spread out on the ground almost horrified him. He didnt need to

ask himself. Something in him cried out: Theres a crime here!


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He cannot decide what to do. He first covers the money with the road dust and leaves;

then he returns, buries it under a rock and leaves. He departs again, but then returns; and finally

takes the 1,000 franc note and the smaller amount Lecoq has thrown on the ground.

At this point Fval gives the reader certain details: Schwartz will become a millionaire

many times over and, although Lecoq was then only twenty-two years old, this was not his first

time to be mixed up in suspicious business. He also tells the reader that Lecoqs career will be

closely followed. The rest of this volume and those following will relate the reason for the

Maynotte trial, the nature, make up, and work of The Black Coats, involving mysterious

characters, disguises, crimes, and strange happenings.

JEAN DIABLE

Jean Diable introduces Chief Inspector Gregory Temple of Scotland Yard, one of the

first main characters of the roman-feuilleton approaching a fully developed detective. When

Fvals story opens, Intendant Gregory Temple was at the height of his police career. He was

about fifty or fifty-five years old, a short, thin, but strong man despite his weak appearance. His

once blond hair is turning grey. He has, for more than an hour, been at his desk staring at the

name of a dead woman, Constance Bartolozzi, an actress. He has not been able to make any

progress toward finding her killer. He was told by the Lord High Justice that he should retire,

that he was becoming ineffective. Hearing that, he said he had thought about blowing his brains

out.

His assistant, James Davy, enters to bring him news of the man being hunted for the

murder, Richard Thompson, former secretary and friend of Inspector Temple. Davy is described
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as tall, admirably proportioned. He wears with with decent and rigorous elegance the costume
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of the true gentleman: black suit, vest and trousers with a white tie. His face is quietly regular

and remarkably gentle.

Davy has visited Richard Thompsons mother, and is convinced that Richard is not the

guilty one. He reminds Temple that Temple has made the work of criminals easier by publishing

his book on police procedures, The Art of Finding the Guilty. Temple said: I have created the

detective machine!

James Davy has found the maid of Constance Bartolozzi, Sarah McNeil, and has brought

her to Temple. She tells the two them that on the night of the murder she was sleeping in the

actresss bedroom, as she had been since the actress had become frightened of sleeping alone.

She said someone disguised as an acquaintance of the victim, Prince Alexis, had entered the

room from a closet, gone to the sleeping woman, choked her to death, put his finger to his lips to

tell her not to talk and disappeared. She herself had gone into hiding until located by James

Davy. She says the murderer was Jean Diable, the Quaker, an almost mythical criminal, whose

real appearance no one had ever seen. She reports:

Your honor knows, as well as I do, and better than I, that the Quaker has a whole store of

appearances. I have seen him twice in my life, and if the second time he hadnt said to me, Here

I am, I could have lived a whole century near him without recognizing him. The night of the

murder, he was a thirty-year-old manwith blond, soft curls on his head, He was about as tall

as M. Temple, slightly more, maybe, with chestnut-colored sideburns, a thin aquiline nose, lips

redder than a ladys. When he approached me yesterday at the end of Thames Street, he was a

heavy fellow about forty-years-old and with grey in his beard.


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Temple dismisses Sarah McNeil, secretly instructing that she be followed. He then tell

James Davy; I have the profound, absolute conviction, Davy, that Jean-Diable doesnt exist!I

would swear on my eternal salvation that she saw nothing. As low as I have fallen, I still know

how to distinguish between a memorized role and a sincere deposition.

Newspapers print derogatory reviews of Inspector Temples lack of progress. Temple

resigns his position, having seen to James Davys promotion. Davy promises whatever aide he

can give to Temple, who swears to spend the rest of his life in pursuit of the criminal hiding

under the name of Jean Diable. Temple asks Davy to search for the answers to three questions:

Who were Constance Bartolozzis enemies? Who were those troubling her life? Who profited by

her death? As soon as Temple has left, Davy goes through Temples files, keeping some and

burning others.

In a later chapter, Fval lets the reader know the biography of Jean-Diable. The owner of

a pub and a successful criminal in the slums of London, Thomas Paddock, gave lessons twice a

week on how to succeed while operating outside the law. He is ultimately hanged, but his name

passed into folklore. Fval tells the reader: And when a criminal, elevated by his genius above

the ordinary, accomplishes some great exploits which become legendary, the admiration of the

common criminal gives him this glorious nickname of Jean-Diable.

Before returning to his main story, Fval has a descendant of a famous family of

criminals read, in a pub, the history of the present crime and criminals, including an imagined

visit of Jean Diable to Gregory Temple. He then returns to the mysterious role played by James

Davy, former assistant to Superintendent Gregory Temple of Scotland Yard, followed by James
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Davy with Richard Thompson, both former assistants to Scotland Yard Superintendent Gregory
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Temple working together.


The role of characters already introduced will be clarified as new characters are

introduced to complete the eight volumes of Jean Diable.

MILE GABORIAU

1832-1873

BIOGRAPHY

Biographical sketches of mile Gaboriau frequently begin with the fact that he is credited

with being the originator of the modern detective story, or the fact that he was the secretary,

sometimes the ghost writer, of Paul Fval, and the editor of the magazine, Jean Diable, which

Fval created in 1862. However, Gaboriaus early life began in the provinces, where his father

was a public official, transferred from time to time as his job required. He was born in Saujon, in

the Maritime region of France. His father wanted him to become a notary, and he did spend two

years as a notarys assistant. He left that apprenticeship in 1852 to join the French armys Fifth
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Regiment as a second-class infantryman, where he served three years, part of that time in Africa.
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Mustered out, he settled in Paris, where, among other occupations, he had minor employment as

the manager of a livery stable, editor of a small journal, and a ballad writer for street singers. At

the same time he also published anecdotes of famous actresses and royal mistresses and served

as a press correspondent for Napoleon IIIs 1859 Italian campaign. As a feuilletonist, he

contributed, articles to La Vrit, Le Tintamarre, and Le Progrs.

Gabouiaus success as a novelist was not immediate and was perhaps helped by a friend

he had met at the secondary school in Tarascon-sur-Rhne, Alphonse Millaud. Millauds uncle

was Moise (aka Polidore) Millaud, a banker and publisher who had founded the first truly

popular, politically unaffiliated, newspaper, Le Petit Journal, in 1863. The cost, five centimes,

and content were directed editorially and monetarily toward the man in the street. Gaboriaus

friend from secondary school, Alphose Millaud, joined his uncles publication in 1854 and

became its editor in 1865. At the time, Gaboriau was contributing as a feuilletonist to Le Pays,

another of Moise Millauds newspaper. He proposed a new type of feuilleton novel, LAffaire

Lerouge (The Widow Lerouge). This type of novel was to become known as the roman-judiciare,

the detective novel. It had enough success for Millaud to reprint it in one of his newspapers with

a larger circulation, Le Soleil. Its success there led Millaud to sign Gaboriau to a contract to write

exclusively for Le Petit Journal. When The Widow Lerouge was published in book format,

Gaboriau dedicated the first edition to his friend, Alphonse Millaud, writing: To my everyday

friend, Alphonse Millaud, and signed it, mile Gaboriau.

LAffaire Lerouge was based on a real murder case and by its technique gained Gaboriau

his sometimes title as father of the detective story. He explained the technique used there and

in all his subsequent detective novels: The technique of the roman-judiciare is infantile. The
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role of the reader is to discover the murderer; the role of the author is to throw the reader off the
track. All my talent is in that. However, Gaboriaus technique was somewhat more complicated

than he admitted. He was one of the first to use the flash-back. His novel begins with a crime,

sometimes murder, sometimes fraud, robbery or extortion. The detective gathers facts, interviews

witnesses and persons of interest, digests the information, and then finds that the present crime

cannot be elucidated without information from the past. The author, in a flashback, returns to the

source in the past of the present crime. Once he has gathered enough information, he returns to

the time of the opening to solve the crime.

Gaboriau served his apprenticeship with Paul Fval and borrowed from him. His most

obvious borrowing was the name Lecoq and the crowing rooster device of the secondary

character in The Widow Lerouge. Gaboriau apparently didnt intend to use M. Lecoq beyond his

role there. However, he was so popular his work as a super detective was continued in four more

Lecoq novels by Gaboriau and continued by Fortun du Boisgobey in another two works.

Gaboriau gives Lecoq several different backgrounds. The M. Lecoq version is as follows:

His name was Lecoq. He was about twenty-five or six years old, almost beardless, pale, with

very red lips and an abundance of wavy black hair. He was rather short, but well proportioned,

and each of his movements showed unusual strength. .The son of a well-to-do Norman family,

Lecoq had been given a good and solid education. He was beginning his law studies in Paris,

when, in the same week, blow followed blow. He learned that his father had died, financially

ruined, and that his mother had survived him only a few hours.

Forced to earn a living, Lecoq found he could do nothing practical. According to

Gaboriau, Lecoq tried to earn a living by all the ways tried by those who have fallen out of the
44

upper class into the working class. He finally took a job with an astronomer for whom he solved
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intricate mathematical problems. He also daydreamed about hypothetical situations, some of


which involved breaking the law. He showed his employer one by which he could rob a bank

without consequences. His employer fired him on the spot, telling him that his talents would lead

him either to becoming a master thief or a talented law officer. Lecoq took the latter path and

joined the Sret.

Gaboriau, in LAffaire Larouge, has Lecoq work with, and be subservient to, an

independently wealthy amateur detective, Pre Tabaret, called Tire-au-clair, the one who brings

things to light. Pre Tabaret will become Lecoqs mentor. Pre Tabaret explains his interest in

solving crimes: When reading the memoirs of famous policeman, which rival the most intriguing

fables, I was enthusiastic about those men with subtle intuition, smoother than silk, as supple as

iron, intelligent and cunning, fertile in unexpected resources, who follow the trail of the crime,

the Code in their hands, through the underbrush of legality, just as (James Fenimore) Coopers

savages follow their enemy in the middle of the American forests. I wanted to be a cogwheel in

that admirable machine, to become also Providence on tip-toe, helping in the punishment of

crime and the triumph of innocence. I tried, and its turned out that Im not too badly suited for

the job.

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