Joseph Eynaud (University of Malta)

The detective novel in Italy had known its second boom in the seventies. From 1966 onwards the Milanese detective novels of Scerbanenco had acquired success both in Italy and abroad. In 1972 it was the turn of Fruttero and Lucentini who considered their novel to be Literatenliteratur; in '73 the Felisatti and Pitorru series – novels set in Italy and typical Italian. Other detective novel writers of this period include Enzo Russo, Renato Olivieri, Giuseppe Bonura, Giuseppe Pontiggia, Attilio Veraldi. Besides the novel one must not forget detective stories for television and the cinema. It is not therefore exaggerated to affirm that the detective novel had not only become a genre but also its themes, schemes and characters had become household names in the cultural heritage of many countries: Holmes, Padre Brown, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Maigret and others to quote but a few. But what was the critics' position who definitely could not ignore the popularity of this genre? It is in the late seventies that such denominations as para-literature, marginal literature, popular literature, literature of the masses, literature of consumption, "Trivialliteratur" were attributed to the detective novel in the hot debate of those days on the function and nature of "Literature".