Saturday, 31 August 2013


I've just returned to London from a holiday in France, and have now doubled my collection of old French paperback novels which have a 'Londres' connection from one to two!
Five years ago I spotted this copy of 'Le Saint a Londres' in a market in the Vendee area for a bargain 50c, and this time round I nabbed an eye-catching secondhand Georges Simenon title in Sarlat for a couple of Euros.
Le Livre de Poche, 1968

Back cover, with credits to Pierre Faucheux / Photo Holmes Lebel 

'The Saint in London' by Leslie Charteris was originally titled 'The Misfortunes of Mr.Teal', when it was first published in book form in 1934. It was most probably re-titled after the successful 1939 US film starring George Sanders as Simon Templar / The Saint.

This French pocket book edition has a gorgeous dayglo pop art cover - and is particularly intriguing because the photo of London's Piccadilly Circus captured in a typically bustling 1960s moment has been printed back-to-front! At the bottom centre, there's the no.14 bus to Hornsey Rise, and just above 'Le Saint' logo is the Circlorama Cinema which opened in 1963 and had about a two year run as a kind of precursor to the IMAX-style cinemas of today. Back then, the audience stood in the centre of the auditorium which was surrounded by, literally, a circle of film screens. Other iconic signs of the time are Coca-Cola , and on the back cover - Double Diamond, Skol and Guinness beers. Note also a truck with an advert for Lyons Swiss Rolls.

L'Homme de Londres by the Belgian writer Georges Simenon was also first published in 1934. It was made into a film in Occupied France in 1943, and sixty four years later the Hungarian film director Bela Tarr revived the story, this time as 'The Man from London'.

The cover is rather unusual, with the authors surname boldly written with glowing turquoise letters. A blatant contrast to the stark photograph of the black dockyard cranes (a symbol of the River Thames, and back then, set to be torn down forever).

Perhaps I'll discover another vintage 'Londres' title in France within the next five years?

another Le Livre de Poche title, this time a 1971 edition

the same photo on the back cover, flipped back to front. Credit: a.a.g / cl. veyrac

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