Ellen Carter

Antipodean French Crime Fiction is All but Pacific

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Post-colonial; Imperial; South Pacific; Crime Fiction.

In exploring how crime fiction's geo-political context addresses social critique, the corpus of French crime novels set in the South Pacific offers a precious case-study since it contemporaneously evokes communities both colonial - French Polynesia, New Caledonia, the New Hebrides, and Wallis and Futuna - and post-colonial: New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu. I am not claiming a regional (crime) literature for the South Pacific. Instead, I peer through the lens of French-language crime fiction set in the South Pacific to explore what it reveals about cultural assumptions and social critique. Distant reading of this corpus reveals a cultural gap between reality and how these locations and their inhabitants are imagined, particularly through the choice of the protagonists' cultural background. Close reading of the corpus helps trace the gap's contours, in particular authors' fixation on plots with global rather than local ramifications. In this essay, I investigate the roots of this gap in French imperial and colonial projects, and show that the gap narrows over time, offering evidence based on changes in author background, publisher, and genre.

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