УДК 82-1/-9


Норец Максим Вадимович
Таврический национальный университет
кандидат филологических наук, доцент кафедры теории и практики перевода и социолингвистики

Данное исследование посвящено изучению жанра шпионского романа в западноевропейском литературоведении периода 40-80 гг. ХХ века. Этот жанр оказался самым подходящим для выражения идеологии «холодной войны». В западной печати и в художественной литературе этих десятилетий создавался и культивировался образ врага, которого разоблачают и побеждают защитники системы.


Norets Maxim Vadimovich
Tavrida national university
PhD in philology

This research work is dedicated to studying the genre of the spy novel in West European literary criticism of the 40-80th of the XX century. This genre turned out to be the most suitable for expressing the ideology of “cold war”. In western mass media and literature of these years the image of the enemy who is found and fought was made up and cultivated.

Keywords: genre, ideology, spy, spy novel


Библиографическая ссылка на статью:
Норец М.В. The evolution of the spy novel genre in West European literary criticism of the 40-80th of the XX century // Современные научные исследования и инновации. 2013. № 11 [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://web.snauka.ru/issues/2013/11/28603 (дата обращения: 03.02.2020).

In the West European post-war spy novel, A. Sarukhanyan highlights the works of J. Fleming [2] – “after the World War II Fleming developed the tradition of Buchan, who had guessed the desire of the postwar reader to appeal to the heroic adventures of a spy – a gentleman, although his protagonist wasn’t an amateur but a professional” [4].

Fleming reproduced the genre dominant of the spy novel: in order to accomplish the incumbent mission, the agent is sent into the enemy territory to discover the plans of the enemy and neutralize it, which, in our opinion, are drawn in the spirit of science fiction. Thrilling narration is constructed as a series of victories and defeats, capture and an unexpected salvation. In the person of James Bond, Fleming created a man of action devoid of doubt, perceived by the mass consciousness as a superhero, while he was just a “wonderful machine” in the hands of his omnipresent chief.

A. Sarukhanyan refers the works of J. Fleming about James Bond to the genre of “romance”. Many elements go back to the famous literary and mythological sources (the Knight fighting the dragon, brave and loving Eros, bringing the death Thanatos). From our point of view, the main character of James Bond didn’t set himself a goal of becoming a noble knight for the only dearly and platonic beloved beauty, but he fulfilled the mission entrusted to him by the state, and women, in his case, were only an auxiliary tool for achieving this goal. Or, as a rule, on the contrary they prevented him from achieving the set object by their betrayals.

As A. Sarukhanyan noted, during the “cold” war spy novel genre experienced its golden age. “The cult of Bond was not that long. In the 60s, it transformed into the world of the film industry, meanwhile in the literature the anti-James Bond mood highlighted. The golden age of a spy novel occurred in the decades of the “cold war” [4].

It appears that the interest in him was stirred up by the exposure of the real spies, the famous British intellectuals (Guy Burgess, D. Maclean, Kim Philby, George Blake), who had been working on the Soviet Union for ideological reasons. Then the potential of the genre was discovered,the tradition of J. Conrad, who portrayed the world distorted by the atmosphere of secrecy, duplicity and treachery, and introduced the theme of a double agent (“Secret Agent”, 1907, “Under Western Eyes”, 1911), actualized. But from our point of view, the greatest impact was made by Graham Greene, which was recognized by the most famous authors of spy novels. Novels and the anthology of Green’s “Spy’s Bedside Book” (1957) testify his understanding of the genre as a way of modeling extreme situations for the determination of the essential problems. After Conrad, he expressed his idea of the twentieth century, as the era of universal conspiracy, in which networks anyone can be.

Yury Uvarov in the preface to his book “The French spy novel”, which was published in Moscow in 1992 in the “Politizdat”, states that the spy novel genre acquired extraordinary popularity in the 50-80s on the West, and particularly in France.“Millions of readers are attracted to this genre because it retains a number of important functions, mostly lost in the so-called “serious literature”. It develops the images of the “positive characters” in the face of detectives – counterintelligence fighting against the dark forces that are ready to disturb the peace, security and break the habitual way of life of law-abiding citizens. The books of this genre have a lot of captivating and interesting information about the modern world, which in the blink of an eye carries the reader into various points of the globe. Finally, these books are popular because they meet the fervid needs of the exotics, something an unusual, bright, substantial, unlike the gray, mundane everyday life “[1].

We shall disagree with the opinion of Y. Uvarov, in the context, where he opposes the “detectives – counterintelligence” to the “dark forces”.  From our point of view, the distinct genre dominant of spy novel is the opposition of special services of one state to the Intelligence or Counterintelligence authority of the enemy state.

Next Y. Uvarov represents his vision of the genre code of the spy novel – “the spy novel” can not be reduced to a single type. It is very heterogeneous and has many varieties. We offer our readers the variants specific to the different stages of the development of the genre, which has grown in detective fiction, and at first it distinguished only by the fact that in comparison with the traditional “criminal” detective story, here at the center of attention is the crime which prejudices the state, but not the individual” [1]. From our point of view, the idea of ​​Y. Uvarov is essentially true, as the spy novel is rooted in one of the types of the detective fiction, which has later acquired a number of its characteristic features and “gemmated” in a separate genre.

Next, Uvarov accurately defines “the ancestor” of the spy novel in France: “In France, the books of this genre haven’t appeared for a long time. The novel by Pierre Nord “Double Crime on the Maginot Line” (1936), which was included in our collection, was the first French “spy novel” [1].

From our point of view, in the Western literary criticism, the similar to the USSR during the “cold war” tendency is being observed − the arrival of retired officers in the literature and, as a consequence, the particularization of the working methods of the security services.

Y. Uvarov in his preface confirms our assumption. “The author has been prepared for the role of the founder of the” spy “genre by his biography. When the novel “Double Crime on the Maginot Line” was first published, its creator was the counterintelligence officer with solid experience. His real name was André Brouillard” [1].

Same as in the USSR, in this period of time, the author has no right to disclose the secrets of his official work. So he inserts in the text a significant proportion of fiction and talks not about what he was doing there, but creates a fascinating story. But above all, he hides his own name, and instead of André Brouillard appears Pierre Nord (it is easy to notice that he took as the nickname the name of the province where he was born).

For all his commitment to an almost documentary accuracy the author retained, however, the loyalty to the purely literary tradition in the creation of a detective story. Although it is clear that the events take place in the mid 30s of XX century, under specific conditions, the narrative and the manner of presentation seem much like antiquity. Such kind of detective investigation, which is presented in the first French “spy novel “, could be simply conducted by the characters of the authors of XIX – early XX century like Emile Gaboriau, Conan Doyle, or by Gaston Leroux. Pierre Nord retains the atmosphere of the mystery, which is peculiar to classics of the genre. His works are characterized by an abundance of details and particulars that complicate the search, which had to testify the special sophistication of the criminal and to set off the wisdom of the detective-investigator, who skillfully untangles the Gordian knot, and reveals a secret of the crime.

Y. Uvarov assesses the development of the genre of the spy novel after World War II: “After World War II and up to the 80s in the French detective novel, including the first of its “spy” branches, there have been dramatic changes. The classic examples of the genre have almost become a thing of the past. So they have become an anachronism. Even before the Second World War in the U.S., a new type of detective fiction has emerged − the so-called “thriller” (causing tremors). It is also called a “cool” detective story. In such kind of novels, a detective, “fighting against evil”, relies not so much on the intellect and scientific knowledge, but rather on his agility, resourcefulness, responsiveness, as well as on his physical strength and accuracy. There is no place here for the logical calculations and psychological analysis. Descriptions of murders, car chases, fights and intimate scenes in the novel take up much more space than the story of the gradual thoughtful disclosure of the secrets of crime” [1].

From our point of view, in another type of novels, on the contrary, the intellectual and spiritual qualities of the main character are emphasized. He is the defender of the “free world”. “At the same time he must have iron muscles, shoot well and to be a real womanizer when it is necessary for the business” [3].

Y. Uvarov claims that the first type of “spy novel” has acquired the especially huge popularity. But the “spy novels” with “romantic” trend have also won the hearts of many readers. Their heroes, although most of them work for the CIA (that corresponds to their “ideological problem”), actually are not such defenders of America as of common to all mankind values, which are ​​under threat. It is obvious that such a noble mission must be carried out by heroes, endowed with only positive qualities” [3].

Thus, this genre has turned out to be the most suitable for the expression of the ideology of the “cold war”, which, as it is well known, lasted from the late 40′s till almost the second half of the 80s, experiencing over the years rises and falls. Both in the western and Soviet press and in the literature of these decades there was created and cultivated the image of an enemy who was exposed and defeated by the defenders of the system. The detective fiction, which emerged in the last century, in the era of Romanticism, with its division of the characters on the bad criminals and white perfect noble heroes, has retained this contrast up to the present day. But the role of the former criminal − a robber or a murderer – was taken by an agent of a foreign state. In the context of the “cold war”, this agent was almost always a spy from the socialist countries with his assistants, and its antipode − the noble hero – was played by the representative of the secret service − the defender of the social and political system, who expressed its ideology.

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  1. Double Crime on the Maginot Line [preface Uvarov Y.]. Moscow : Politizdat, 1992. 412 p. (rus)
  2. Fleming J. Collected works in 7 volumes. Moscow : Terra-Book club, 2008. 2664 p. (rus)
  3. Hosta M. Shpionskiy roman. Popitka kratkogo obzora (Spy novel. The attempt of brief review). Available at: http://www.agentura.ru/forum/archive/4047.html.
  4. Enziklopjedichjeskiy slovar angliyskoy literaturi XX vjeka (Encyclopedic dictionary of the English literature of  XX century). [A. P. Saruhanyan]. Moscow : Nauka, 2005. 541 p.

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