Maurice Leblanc Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Undoubtedly, Maurice Leblanc’s most important contribution to the mystery and detective genre was his creation of the extraordinary Arsène Lupin, the quintessential criminal-detective. Leblanc’s focus on his character, who dons many disguises throughout the series and who functions as both criminal and hero, raises fundamental questions concerning truth and value, and their uncertainty in a basically unjust world. Jean-Jacques Tourteau, the author of a major critical study of Lupin, has identified the key devices that Leblanc employed in his crime fiction and that have influenced other writers in the genre: First, Leblanc conferred on his protagonist, Lupin, a histrionic character, especially in making him a “quick-change artist”; second, Lupin is a master at manipulating his victims; third, Leblanc, in like fashion, manipulates the reader; fourth, Leblanc especially uses setting to do so, choosing details that subliminally suggest psychological nuances to the reader; and fifth, Leblanc sustains suspense by delaying the progress of the narration except in cases in which immediate action is necessary.

The impact of the Lupin series is attested by the many critical studies that Leblanc’s protagonist has engendered. There are even two journals devoted to the topic: the Revue des études lupiniennes and the periodical publication of the Société des Études Lupiniennes, founded in 1965.

Maurice Leblanc Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Morain, Alfred. The Underworld of Paris: Secrets of the Sûreté. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1931. Nonfictional study of crime and criminals in Paris; useful background for understanding Leblanc’s Lupin tales.

Murch, Alme E. The Development of the Detective Novel. New York: Philosophical Library, 1958. Broad overview of the detective novel and of Leblanc’s place in its history.

Porter, Dennis. The Pursuit of Crime: Art and Ideology in Detective Fiction. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1981. Provides perspective for understanding Leblanc’s work.

Sayers, Dorothy L. Les Origines du Roman Policier: A Wartime Wireless Talk to the French. Translated by Suzanne Bray. Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, England: Dorothy L. Sayers Society, 2003. Address to the French by the famous English mystery author, discussing the history of French detective fiction and its relation to the English version of the genre.

Sims, Michael. Introduction to Arsène Lupin: Gentleman-Thief. New York: Penguin Books, 2007. Overview of Leblanc’s works and discussion of his most famous creation, written to accompany this reprint edition of the author’s earliest Lupin story.