Fantomas

Notes from Friends of Fantômas

Trevor Stevens writes: As well as being a great fan of the Fantômas novels, I have become absolutely fascinated with the writings of Gustave LeRouge (also mentioned here in the note from David Chute). I've researched all over the Internet, and it does seem to be true that none of his works have ever been made available in English. However, for those who read French, it appears that most of his best-known works (The War of the Vampires, The Mysterious Doctor Cornelius, The Conspiracy of the Billionaires, etc.) are available in two 600+ page books published by Robert Laffont in France (incidentally, Robert Laffont has one of the best catalogs of "weird" fiction and "romans populaires" I've yet seen, including two large volumes of the Fantômas novels). At least one of these books can be ordered from FNAC.

I am actually very interested in the idea of translating at least one of Gustave LeRouge's book into English myself, and seeing if I could get it published. (Of course, another interesting project would be translating into English, for the first time, ALL of the Fantomas novels.) Does anyone of you have any ideas on this? What publishers might actually be interested in this sort of thing? Or perhaps someone would be interested in collaborating on a translation project, via e-mail or some other means, and splitting any monetary rewards? I would very much like to make some of this literature available in English, but considering the amount of time and work which a good translation requires, I would hardly want to do it without at least some chance of getting published.

John Ashbery also mentions the Gustave LeRouge connection in his introduction to Fantômas (William Morrow, 1986; Bantam Books, 1987). He calls LeRouge "recently rediscovered," but like you I am unaware of any English translations.

As for potential English-language publishers of LeRouge or Fantômas novels, William Morrow reissued the first two novels in the Fantômas series in the mid-80s, but then stopped, apparently after disappointing sales. I doubt that any other large commerical publisher would be interested in such a project. However, Dover and Penguin have both reissued the first volume in the series, and as the other existing English translations enter the public domain they are being reissued by specialty publishers. Black Coat Press has commissioned a new translation of The Daughter of Fantômas, and might be interested in extending the series. And web publishing opens up whole new possibilities...

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