eBooks - Category: Mystery & Crime - Download free eBooks or read books online for free. Discover Library of the World's Best Mystery and Detective Stories. Crime fiction / John Scaggs. p. cm. – (The new critical idiom). Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Detective and mystery stories, English– History. Situations (): 27–47 ISSN: – Hindi Detective Pulp Fiction Peter Friedlander (Australian National University) Abstract In this paper, I begin by.
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However, on balance, it does seem that the rapid reported demise of the pulp fiction detective story industry has taken place at around the same time that the distribution of content on mobile phones first took off. It is estimated that sales often peaked at several hundred thousand copies per novel and of up to fifty to eighty publishing houses being active publishing multiple works each month. Situations 8. Here, he became fairly well off through his writing. However, in the novels, Mona Darling morphs from criminal moll into superhero detective spy. He noted how sales figures had sharply fallen off, from a high of hundreds of thousands for one book to a just a few thousand at the present time.
Safi was born before the division of India near Allahabad and moved to Karachi in Pakistan after independence. He was a prolific author, writing novels in a series called Detective World. These stories were originally published in Urdu, and then in Hindi versions, as monthly magazines from to From , Safi began a second series which eventually ran to novels in which the leading figure was a secret agent called Ali Imran.
Aside from the obvious changes to the script and language, one other major alteration concerned the leading character: However, the depiction of the hero and his sidekick is the same in both: It is also notable that the covers of these magazines feature paintings in similar styles to that of the movie poster art of the period. Like them, they are as lurid as possible in order to attract attention. Some of the artists such as Mustajab Ahmed Siddiqui were responsible for painting hundreds of these pictures over many decades; their art is featured on the covers of many of the leading Hindi detective story novels.
In the Hindi version, however, the hero of the story, Colonel Vinod, solves the crime by revealing that there is in fact nothing Figure 2. Nakahat the supernatural merely serves Publications, March These magazines were often sold at bookstalls outside cinemas, where a range of Hindi language publications were available. Many of these migrant workers would appear to live in a kind of marginal space between modernity and more traditional beliefs.
These publications were also very cheap, and in a sense offered readers an alternate way to experience the thrills of cinema. The stalls not only sold these books but also rented them out, for a few rupees a day or less. It is therefore very difficult to estimate how large their actual circulation may have been. Later in this article, however, I will argue that there were perhaps a hundred thousand or even a million readers each month.
Figure 3. Satyakatha True Stories magazine, September True crime magazines such as Satyakatha True Stories were also sold at the bookstalls, alongside issues of Detective World. As with the early Western detective stories, this confluence of accounts of true crimes and detective fiction blurred genre boundaries.
Moreover, whilst the two genres shared a common basic crime narrative structure, detective stories were often told from the viewpoint of the detectives, while crime stories were always written as third—person narratives in the manner of newspaper journalism.
The example shown in figure 3 from includes a whole range of stories about theft, robbery, rape and murder. The readership for both fictional detective stories and accounts of real crimes clearly overlapped. People bought and read both types of publication, which explored similar areas of anxiety about modern life and the issue of safety in the new modern Indian public spaces.
The venues where Hindi detective and true crime publications were sold included not only the bookstalls outside cinemas but also bookstalls located at railway stations. Indeed, many of the novel serials indicated that they were specially produced for A. Wheeler, the main railway bookseller. It is possible that this method of railway station marketing was influential in creating a modern mass market for Hindi literature. The new public railway spaces were also a site for anxiety about crime; and, as early as , the Figure 4.
The railways went on to become the site of communal violence during partition—itself a subject for popular iction as in the English language novel Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh. In the twentieth century, detective fiction and true crime fiction, along with romances and supernatural horror stories, were an important part of this pulp fiction readership in India.
In this case, the story is of a small town in which belief in the supernatural and superstition is rife. Here, the practice of sati, the forced self—immolation by widows, is given particular attention.
The detectives in this story arrive in the town and are able to show that several of the supposedly superstitious practices of the locals are baseless. This helps them prevent the crime of encouraging a woman to commit sati.
It is interesting to consider how to understand the popularity of such stories. The debunking of the supernatural through logical deduction appears to have fitted with how readers were negotiating their partly westernized and partly traditional identities.
This story, in particular, reflects an anxiety about how to understand life in smaller Indian towns seen from the perspective of the growing Indian metropolis. The novel was written by an author who lived in the city of Meerut, near Delhi, one of the new centres that became associated with Hindi detective fiction in the s. He belonged to a new generation of novelists who wrote only in Hindi, unlike earlier authors such as Ibne Safi who had written in both Hindi and Urdu.
Here, he became fairly well off through his writing. He typically wrote two or more novels every month, in one of a number of different series. Apart from detective fiction, he wrote historical novels. One of these historical novels, Dawn to Dusk, which concerned the life of the last Mughal Emperor Badshah Zafar, achieved a certain fame.
Towards the end of his life, Sharma estimated that he had written over novels. By the age of 27, he had published one hundred novels, some independent, but mostly in the form of works in a number of series based on different leading characters.
Since , he has published his books through his own publishing house, Tulsi Books; and he has won a number of prizes. Some of his books have been turned into films and a TV serial has been made out of his Keshav Pandit series of novels. One constant theme in these interviews is the fact that in the s authors such as himself were exploited by the publishing houses, being paid as little as RS or two dollars per story.
Even for a novel the going rate was only a figure Figure 5. Sharma notes that the sales and readership for these novels was at its highest in the early s and that a few of his novels sold in excess of three hundred thousand copies. In some cases, stories about the same hero were attributed to different authors by different publishing houses, and it became obvious that different authors were being used to ghost write these novels. By the late s, it is notable that the tradition of lurid cover paintings for detective storybooks had begun to be replaced by covers made up from photographic montages.
In a newspaper article about the changing fortunes of Hindi detective fiction, Shelle, one of the most prolific of its cover artists, commented ruefully that whilst he used to paint four or more covers a month, by he was no longer painting any at all.
These books typically responded to world news: These detective novels therefore often featured stories in which the patriotic defence of India was somehow intertwined with the foiling of international criminal plots. It is important to remember that these books were all written as monthly series; to what extent any author could really churn out one novel a month for years on end must be open to question.
It seems quite likely that even when a book claimed it had been written by a particular author, it might nonetheless have been ghost written by an authorial team. What is more, sometimes a number of different publishing houses would publish books about the same heroes but written by different authors.
However, in the novels, Mona Darling morphs from criminal moll into superhero detective spy. The story Figure 7. The book apparently was published just after Atal Behari Vajpayee had overseen an Indian nuclear bomb test at Pokharan in Once again, this publication shows the odd way in which themes and current affairs are mixed up in these novels.
Featuring a cast of both virtuous and villainous Chinese characters as well as the normal cast of criminals and heroes, Monsoon Clouds is an account of how international criminal mafia gangs are collaborating with the Chinese to destabilize the North Eastern states.
It could be argued that even in this age of increasing Indian sophistication, there is much in India that stands outside of the tide of modernization. Indeed, these detective stories are full of a variety of ethnic stereotypes, including villainous Chinese, crude Westerners, Indian Mafioso and virtuous Indians. In truth, they demonstrate very little sophistication. Quite the opposite, they illustrate a rough and ready approach to life, one that nevertheless clearly appeals to rural migrant workers who, while pulling rickshaws around the bustling cities of a newly urbanized and modernized India, are also trying to make some sense of their world.
Figure 8. He noted how sales figures had sharply fallen off, from a high of hundreds of thousands for one book to a just a few thousand at the present time. He attributed this decline to a saturation of the market by sensationalist and titillating works.
Pawanpreet Kaur suggests that the former middle class readers of Hindi detective fiction are now more likely to be reading English books and that since , there has been a sharp increase in the number of people watching TV for entertainment. However, Kaur also notes that between and some publishing houses were reporting increasing sales in the major metros. He also notes, however, that it is not that the genre has died, but rather that it has simply fallen from the height of its greatest popularity in the latter part of the twentieth century.
Moreover, like other commentators, I believe the main reason for the decline in the readership of the print versions of Hindi detective fiction may be the rise of the mobile phone.
In their study, The Great Indian Phone Book , Robin Jeffrey and Assa Doron chart the way in which the mobile phone has changed the lives of people at all levels of Indian society since its first inception in No one knew why, who he was, where he came from or where he went. In journalist and crime historian, John Reynolds, receives a call informing him a body has been found on Whitechapel Common.
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