Forgotten Heroes: Arsene Lupin

Arsene Lupin, gentleman thief, one of the most daring and dashing individuals who ever lifted a diamond necklace from under the noses of the authorities.  Young and handsome, laughing his way through difficulties and danger, Lupin is also a master of disguise and languages.  His sense of humor and conceit make life difficult for the police who attribute most of the major crimes in France to Lupin and his gang of ruffians and urchins.  Lupin, also one of the few criminals to outwit the legendary, yet aged Sherlock Holmes helps create the criminal as hero in fiction.   Without Lupin there would probably be no Parker (one of, if not the greatest anti-heores ever created).

Lupin was the creation of French author, Maurice Leblanc (1864-1941). By 1907, Leblanc had graduated to writing full-length Lupin novels, and the reviews and sales were so good that Leblanc effectively dedicated the rest of his career to working on the Lupin stories. Like Conan Doyle, who often appeared embarrassed or hindered by the success of Sherlock Holmes and seemed to regard his success in the field of crime fiction as a detraction from his more “respectable” literary ambitions, Leblanc also appeared to have resented Lupin’s success. Several times, he tried to create other characters, such as private eye Jim Barnett, but he eventually merged them with Lupin. He continued to pen Lupin tales well into the 1930’s.

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