Document Type

Blog Post

Publication Date

Fall 9-17-2019


Edgar Allan Poe’s short tales of ratiocination and, in particular, Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841), are often studied as the starting point for the detective genre. However, some French literary historians consider Honoré de Balzac as one of the genre’s initiators. In 1841, Balzac also published Une Ténébreuse Affaire, a narrative that starts with the depiction of a sinister man cleaning his rifle in front of his terrorized wife and the arrival from Paris of two espions de police. Yet Balzac’s narratives are not structured around a crime leading to an investigation and are therefore dismissed as crime novels by many scholars (Pellini). This paper examines in detail the connection between some of Balzac’s novels, French serialized novels (le feuilleton), and TV series, along with crime fiction as it is developed by Virginie Despentes. As I will demonstrate, the structure of serialized narratives progressively influenced detective fiction and series. Contemporary TV series (that used to be called ‘feuilletons télévisés’ in France) will also showcase episodes delaying a solution in order to keep the audience interested. Along with the numerous theatrical adaptations of romans-feuilletons that contributed to the diffusion of the genre (Lise Quéfélec) and the suspense and rhythm fueled by the expression « La suite au prochain numéro » (to be continued) appeared for the first time in 1829, my paper will consider less known but fundamental literary influences.


Originally published by the International Crime Fiction Research Group



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