29 Following


You can also find me here: https://linktr.ee/onnurtilraun

Second attempt at a blog and back up of my old account, ferningur.

Currently reading

Poulets Grillés
Sophie Hénaff
Il cardillo addolorato
Anna Maria Ortese
Progress: 210/415 pages

Cat among the covers

At the end of the previous post, I mentioned how the official title of the Italian translation of Agatha Christie's "Cat among the pigeons" is "Gruesome Quiz". themis-athena wondered in the comment what could have pushed the translator to pick a title like that, given how there really aren't quizzes in the story. The answer itself isn't anything too criptic (marketing, basically, more on that later), but while googling for pictures of covers to explain myself better, I found a few fun images I just wanted to share.


So, first of all, the title: the book was originally translated and published in 1960, as part of the famous Italian series Gialli Mondadori. "Gialli" is series of cheap paperback versions of detective mystery novels sold in newsstands rather than bookstores.


"Giallo" (singular for "Gialli") simply means "yellow" in Italian, and comes from the color of the covers of the books, while Mondadori is just the name of the publishing house. They're been around since the 1920s, and the word "giallo" has become a common synonym for detective stories in Italian, even those printed by other publishing houses.


There seems to be a misconception that "gialli" only refers to a certain type of more violent and sleazy Italian detective stories, but in reality it can mean every kind of investigative story, from cozy mysteries to hard-boiled.


Most of that reputation is due to the covers: as a way of grabbing the attention of the buyer, and being basically the Italian equivalent of pulp novels, the people at Mondadori changed the original titles to something more eyecatching. It wasn't always the case, but some of the changes made for that edition did carry through to this day, especially for works that Mondadori still has the rights to.


I can guess that this was the case here too. I guess the editors thought that mentions of cats and birds wouldn't have been as interesting a title for people looking for a good, serious mystery. Here's the cover for the first edition of the translation, from 1960.



In any case, Italian Agatha Christie fans are well aware of the original titles, and there have been covers that play around with it. Here's the cover for a reprint from 1982.




Same title, but with random cat that doesn't really make sense unless you know of the original title.


And here comes the one I really wanted to share, from a reprint from 1989.



"Macabro quiz", that time Poirot investigated the disappearance of someone's parrot, and came to a disappointingly predictable resolution. I'd still read that book.