The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar


The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar

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Two writers, famous in their own countries for creating immortal characters: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in England and Maurice Leblanc in France. Their literary creations, Sherlock Holmes and Arsene Lupin are at two ends of the criminal spectrum. Holmes is a sleuth while Lupin is a burglar. When Maurice Leblanc introduces Sherlock Holmes in one of his Arsene Lupin stories, Conan Doyle is outraged. He sues Leblanc, who promptly changes the character's name to “Herlock Sholmes” and continues featuring him in more stories with typical French insouciance! The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar by Maurice Leblanc marks the debut of this suave, debonair crook who is considered to be the French answer to Sherlock Holmes. Arsene Lupin is a gentleman, who “operates only in châteaux and salons” and “man of a thousand disguises: in turn a chauffeur, detective, bookmaker, Russian physician, Spanish bull-fighter, commercial traveler, robust youth and decrepit old man.” This master thief is a Robin Hood like figure who steals not just for his own gain, but for the ultimate good of someone else. In this book, we find the urbane scoundrel engaged in a series of amusing shenanigans. The stories are sequential in nature, but can be enjoyed as stand alone tales too. First serialized in the French magazine Je Sais Tout in 1905, the Arsene Lupin stories soon caught the public imagination on both sides of the Channel. The collection includes nine stories dealing with various complicated plots in which Lupin proves himself to be the consummate escape artist. In the first story titled The Arrest of Arsene Lupin, told by a man who comes to admire the gentleman burglar, Lupin is apprehended on board a cruise ship. The later stories deal with his prison term, escape from jail and further adventures. One of the most famous Arsene Lupin stories, The Queen's Necklace is also included here. The two immortals meet in the ninth story, Sherlock Holmes Arrives Too Late and naturally, Lupin manages to outwit the English bloodhound! With the pervading interest in crime and detection stories at that time, Maurice Leblanc cashed in with more than twenty-one Arsene Lupin novels and collections of short stories. Though like Holmes, he ultimately became too famous to eliminate, Arsene Lupin provided his creator with fame and fortune. Based in part on real characters who were in the news at the time, Arsene Lupin remains an amusing, lovable and quick-witted knave whose exploits are enjoyed even today by readers of all ages.


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