Some Ponyo research led me to an article about Lupin the Third, and it suddenly struck me that I should read some Lupin the First – just for purposes of self-education! Luckily the 21st century makes this pretty easy for anyone capable of reading this LJ entry; thank you Project Gutenberg for this collection of Arsene Lupin tales.
I found the first book of stories to be entertaining reading, though I noticed that Lupin resembles the Bronze Age Superman – nothing is truly a challenge for him. If author Leblanc needed Lupin to escape a locked room, frequently a subsequent scene would show him out of the room with no explanation, other than a shrugged “it’s Lupin, what do you expect?”
And this is what put the brakes to my reading of the character, when the French author decides to place Lupin against Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes in “The Blonde Lady”. It’s a pointless battle from the start; Holmes at least engages in his own equivalent of Star Trek technobabble to justify his more unlikely successes (“I can recognize hundreds of brands of cigars by their ashes, of course.”) Lupin has no such limitation, and in this tale penned by a Frenchman, the French thief walks all over the English detective.
Of course, I knew that Holmes would lose the contest – I can see the author’s name at the top of the document, after all – but I’d have enjoyed a real battle of wits, with each side forced to play their best game against the other. Instead, Holmes is shown as completely unprepared for Lupin, and incapable of causing him even mild discomfort. It’s an ungentlemanly treatment of another author’s work, and I’m hardly surprised that Conan Dolye’s estate demanded the removal of Holmes’ name from reprintings. I could not even finish the novel, such was my irritation with it.
I’ll go back to Lupin III, I think. The unstoppable thief is more fun in the slightly deranged world of anime shenanigans; but I’m glad to have briefly met his grand-dad. (Leblanc’s estate does not approve of Lupin III’s use of the name, btw, and in several countries he’s had to be called “The Wolf.” Pot, may I introduce you to kettle?)
Hey… where’s my watch?