why crime inspires creators so much

Long before Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma or Martin Scorsese, Honoré de Balzac and Victor Hugo are not in vain in this matter. The first, in 1842, in Gorioth, speaking of his doomed soul, Vautrin writes: “There is life only on the margins. » The second, twenty years later, in The Miserables, about Javert’s troubled personality, he exclaims: “The history of men is reflected in the history of the sewers. » All is said.

The mafia not only fascinates writers, filmmakers, series writers or comic book authors because it is about crime. In fact, it refers to a mystery, to a heavier, more distressing social darkness, which presupposes violence. The lowlands, the hidden face of society, the underworld, the ” means, medium “ with its laws, its rules, its codes, its places and its language –jargon– they revive the fantasies of a population in need, bland and without harshness, for whom Evil, masked but omnipresent, would reside in the heart of our world.

This article is taken from “Le Monde Special Edition: Mafias, how organized crime threatens the world” 2022. This special issue is for sale at newsstands or online by visiting our boutique site.

Staging this reality in a novel, a movie or a series allows you to immerse yourself in the darkness of an unrefined tragedy. It is no longer the time at Agatha Christie’s to solve a murder in the parlor while she has tea at 5 o’clock. Can you imagine Hercule Poirot fighting the Cosa Nostra? From now on, the reader or viewer advances “In the Asphalt Jungle, where new paths have to be reinvented at every moment, where danger lurks, be amazed too; where the worst defect is necessarily naivety”as the late Jean-François Vilar pointed out, with poetry, without a doubt the best French author of crime novels.

This is how the black novel is born

Everything changed on January 16, 1920. That day the United States prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol throughout its territory. Prohibition leads to the explosion of smugglers, dealers who hid the bottles in their boots, and speakeasies, those speakeasies. But, above all, it allows the mafia organizations of Sicilian origin, which arrived with the last wave of immigration, to engage in profitable trafficking. Chicago, under the authority of Al Capone, acquires the dubious reputation of “crime capital”. In New York, Lucky Luciano organizes a real organized crime syndicate. Corruption plagues the police and the administration. Very quickly, popular literature, that of the paperback books (pocket books) and pulp (illustrated magazines) as black mask, will take advantage of the theme and transform noble bandits with big hearts, Arsène Lupin style, into despicable criminals willing to throw their best friend in a vat of acid to increase their empire.

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