Detective Story in 1940’s in Shanghai
279 , 2015-04-01 , 関西大学東西学術研究所
It has been previously noted that in Shanghai in the 1940s the magazine Wanxiang was active in publishing detective fiction, and that several magazines devoted to detective stories were published in the immediate postwar period, but there has been no detailed research on this subject. This paper provides an overview of detective fiction in the 1940s, with an analysis of its readership and reception. Wanxiang was a magazine popular in Shanghai during the last days of its so-called “solitary island” period (when the autonomous foreign concessions were besieged by Japanese forces), publishing translations of stories by Ellery Queen and other foreign writers along with original works by Chinese. The editors were attentive to both the entertainment and educational value of the detective genre, and aimed at providing “spiritual sustenance” (jingshen shiliang) to an increasingly culturally deprived Shanghai. Between the end of the warand 1949 four magazines of detective fiction were founded and eventually ceased publication — Dazhentan, Shinzhentan, Lanpishu, and Hongpishu — which also praised the detective story as “spiritual sustenance” for young readers. They ran a large volume of translated material by the Western stars of the genre such as Ellery Queen, John Dickson Carr, and Agatha Christie, as well as lesser-known crime fiction probably sourced from Western pulp magazines. Original work included a non-fiction serial that had the full cooperation of the Shanghai Municipal Police Department and was immensely popular.Initially translations of foreign writers dominated, but gradually the number of original works of detective fiction in Chinese grew in number, and budding young writers emerged. All of this was precious entertainment for the readers. Letters to the editors of the magazines welcome the detective stories as “spiritual sustenance,” indicating that readers were also aware of the possibilities of the genre to instruct as well as entertain.