Save the Adventure (10)

By: Joshua Glenn
October 16, 2013

The picaresque is a romantic sub-genre of Adventure in the sense that its protagonist is an individual seeking a passionate life not afforded by an enlightened, modern, rationalized social order. Free experimentation instead of following rules. The invisible prison in this case, then, is NARRATIVE itself. Humans make sense of random or complex multicausal experience by the imposition of story structures, which come to seen natural, eternal, and inevitable; the picaresque draws our attention to the constructed nature of such structures. The travels of the picaro are dreamlike, irreal.

verne strogoff

Thanks! To the nearly 400 adventure fans who kickstarted the SAVE THE ADVENTURE e-book club.

MORE LIT LISTS FROM THIS AUTHOR: 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time | 100 Best Radium Age Sci-Fi Novels (1904–1933) | 75 Best Golden Age Sci-Fi Novels (1934–1963) | 75 Best New Wave Sci-Fi Novels (1964–1983) | 55 Best Scientific Romances (1864–1903) | Best 19th Century Adventure (1805–1903) | Best Nineteen-Oughts Adventure (1904–13) | Best Nineteen-Teens Adventure (1914–23) | Best Twenties Adventure (1924–33) | Best Thirties Adventure (1934–43) | Best Forties Adventure (1944–53) | Best Fifties Adventure (1954–63) | Best Sixties Adventure (1964–73) | Best Seventies Adventure (1974–83) | 101 Science Fiction Adventures | 70 Crime Adventures | 65 Fantasy Adventures | 61 Espionage Adventures | 40 Atavistic & Historical Adventures | 25 Frontier & Western Adventures | 20 Avenger & Artful Dodger Adventures | 20 Apophenic & Treasure Hunt Adventures | 20 War & Ruritanian Adventures | 18 Picaresque Adventures | 10 Robinsonade & Survival Adventures. ALSO: Best YYA Lit 1963 | Best YYA Lit 1964 | Best YYA Lit 1965 | Best YYA Lit 1966 | Best YYA Lit 1967 | THE OUGHTS (1904–13): 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912. THE TEENS (1914–23): 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922. THE TWENTIES (1924–33): 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932. THE THIRTIES (1934–43): 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942. THE FORTIES (1944–53): 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952. THE FIFTIES (1954–63): 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962. THE SIXTIES (1964–73): 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972. THE SEVENTIES (1974–83): 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982. | Best Scottish Fabulists | Radium-Age Telepath Lit | Radium Age Superman Lit | Radium Age Robot Lit | Radium Age Apocalypse Lit | Radium Age Eco-Catastrophe Lit | Radium Age Cover Art (1) | SF’s Best Year Ever: 1912 | Cold War “X” Fic | Best YA Sci-Fi | Hooker Lit | No-Fault Eco-Catastrophe Lit | Scrabble Lit |

20 ADVENTURE THEMES AND MEMES: Index to All Adventure Lists | Introduction to Adventure Themes & Memes Series | Index to Entire Series | The Robinsonade (theme: DIY) | The Robinsonade (theme: Un-Alienated Work) | The Robinsonade (theme: Cozy Catastrophe) | The Argonautica (theme: All for One, One for All) | The Argonautica (theme: Crackerjacks) | The Argonautica (theme: Argonaut Folly) | The Argonautica (theme: Beautiful Losers) | The Treasure Hunt | The Frontier Epic | The Picaresque | The Avenger Drama (theme: Secret Identity) | The Avenger Drama (theme: Self-Liberation) | The Avenger Drama (theme: Reluctant Bad-Ass) | The Atavistic Epic | The Hide-And-Go-Seek Game (theme: Artful Dodger) | The Hide-And-Go-Seek Game (theme: Conspiracy Theory) | The Hide-And-Go-Seek Game (theme: Apophenia) | The Survival Epic | The Ruritanian Fantasy | The Escapade

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All structures are constructions; none are natural, eternal, or inevitable. The protagonists of modern picaresques tend to be spies and double agents, smugglers and criminals, investigative journalists who probe the secrets of a nation’s frontiers and institutions. Espionage, according to Martin Green, is the cultural ally of the modern picaresque. Geography and politics form its backdrop. The Franco-Prussian War, the paranoia of the British empire at its apogee, the war prophecy movement (fear of secret weapons and secret invasion plans, necessitating spies to ferret out the secrets), and then also the Dreyfus case — a sympathetic figure convicted of spying against France for the Germans. These contemporary issues, claims LeRoy L. Panek, plus late Victorian gothic and romance motifs (love story, sensation novel, occult and gothic atmosphere, grotesque villainy), resulted in the inception of the espionage novel in the 1890s — a genre that was popular from the start.

NOTES: The lowbrow/pulp picaresque celebrates the protagonist’s virtues of courage and endurance. The highbrow/sardonic picaresque celebrates the protagonist’s roguishness. The lowbrow/pulp picaresque takes a character out of a given social structure and cuts him loose (as in a Buchan novel); the highbrow/sardonic picaresque focuses on an outsider character — a rogue who doesn’t belong anywhere.

Also see the website Spy Guys and Gals.

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PRE-EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

* Petronius’s late-1st-century AD prose/poetry work of fiction Satyricon, which was revived and widely enjoyed during the Renaissance.

* Apuleius’s late-2nd-century AD novel Metamorphoses (also known as The Golden Ass), which was revived and widely enjoyed during the Renaissance.

* The anonymous 1554 Spanish novel The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities.

* Thomas Nashe’s 1594 novel The Unfortunate Traveller: or, the Life of Jack Wilton.

Don_Quixote_6

* Cervantes’ 1605/1615 novel The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha is a sardonic inversion of the picaresque.

THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

* Alain-René Lesage’s c. 1715-35 novel Gil Blas.

* Daniel Defoe’s 1720 novel The Life, Adventures and Piracies of the Famous Captain Singleton, an around-the-world story.

* Daniel Defoe’s 1722 novel Moll Flanders.

* Henry Fielding’s 1742 novel Joseph Andrews.

* Henry Fielding’s 1743 novel The Life of Jonathan Wild the Great.

tom jones

* Henry Fielding’s 1749 novel The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling.

* Voltaire’s 1759 novel Candide is a sardonic inversion of the picaresque.

THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

* Charles Dickens’s 1836–37 serialized novel The Pickwick Papers.

"Stop Thief!"

* Charles Dickens’s 1837–39 serialized novel Oliver Twist.

* Charles Dickens’s 1838–39 serialized novel Nicholas Nickleby.

* William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1844 novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon.

* Jules Verne’s 1867–68 novel In Search of the Castaways (Les Enfants du capitaine Grant), an around-the-world story.

* Jules Verne’s 1876 novel Michael Strogoff: The Courier of the Czar, considered one of his best novels. It’s about an empire’s (Russia’s) political troubles, a pursuer who is himself pursued, and a trio of characters: a couple and their adversary. A template for a certain kind of picaresque.

* Jules Verne’s 1880 novel The Steam House recounts the travels of a group of British colonists in the Raj in a wheeled house pulled by a steam-powered mechanical elephant. It’s about an empire’s (Britain in India’s) political troubles, a pursuer who is himself pursued, and a trio of characters: a couple and their adversary.

twain finn

* Mark Twain’s 1884/85 novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. An Irish orphan boy travels across a large portion of the country, encountering the geography and social varieties; close proximity with a non-white character. Their traveling is legendary or dream-like. They move backward in time while moving forward in space. They are traveling back into a legendary/imaginary version of their country’s past — encountering the vitality of nonwhite/nonadvanced culture and knowledge. The book occupies a position between a wanderer tale and a sardonic inversion of a wanderer tale.

* Jules Verne’s 1885 novel Mathias Sandorf employs many of the devices that had served well in his earlier novels: islands, cryptograms, surprise revelations of identity, technically advanced hardware and a solitary figure bent on revenge. It’s about an empire’s (Austria’s) political troubles, a pursuer who is himself pursued, and a trio of characters: a couple and their adversary.

doyle white

* Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1891 Crusades novel The White Company is an ironic homage to the picaresque adventure.

* Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1892 story “The Beach of Falesá” is a sardonic inversion of the picaresque.

* Robert Louis Stevenson and his stepson Lloyd Osbourne’s 1894 novel The Ebb-Tide is a sardonic inversion of the picaresque.

* Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1896 story collection The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard is an ironic homage to the picaresque adventure.

kipling kim

* Rudyard Kipling’s 1900/01 espionage novel Kim. An Irish orphan boy travels across a large portion of the country, encountering the geography and social varieties; close proximity with a non-white character. Their traveling is legendary or dream-like. They move backward in time while moving forward in space. They are traveling back into a legendary/imaginary version of their country’s past — encountering the vitality of nonwhite/nonadvanced culture and knowledge. The book occupies a position between a wanderer tale and a sardonic inversion of a wanderer tale.

THE NINETEEN-OUGHTS (1904–13)

* Joseph Conrad’s 1907 novel The Secret Agent is a sardonic inversion of the espionage novel. Martin Green says that Conrad is the greatest of adventure-reversers, which is why highbrow’s admire him so much. Green says: “He has been the literary establishment’s hit man in its feud with adventure.”

THE TEENS (1914–23)

* André Gide’s 1914 novel Les caves du Vatican (Lafcadio’s Adventures and The Vatican Cellars) is an ironic homage to the adventure novel. A highbrow novel whose hero reads only Aladdin, Robinson Crusoe, and Moll Flanders.

buchan

* John Buchan’s Richard Hannay novel The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915). The British espionage novel as we know it really begins with Buchan, who (according to LeRoy L. Panek) bent the materials of the boy’s adventure tale to the service of espionage.

* Not an adventure, exactly. But: Our Mr. Wrenn: The Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man is a 1914 novel by Sinclair Lewis and the first to be published under his real name.

* John Buchan’s Richard Hannay novel Greenmantle (1916).

* James Joyce’s Ulysses (1918-20) is a sardonic inversion of this sub-genre.

* John Buchan’s Richard Hannay novel Mr. Standfast (1919).

* E. E. Cummings’ 1922 autobiographical novel The Enormous Room, about his imprisonment in France during World War I.

* Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence Beresford spy novel The Secret Adversary (1922).

hasek-svejk

* Jaroslav Hašek’s 1923 novel The Good Soldier Švejk. Sardonic inversion.

THE TWENTIES (1924–33)

* John Buchan’s Richard Hannay novel The Three Hostages (1924).

* Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence Beresford spy novel Partners in Crime (1929).

* Herge’s 1930 story Tintin in the Land of the Soviets.

tintin

* Herge’s 1931/1946 story Tintin in the Congo.

* Robert E. Howard’s sword-and-sorcery Conan the Cimmerian stories, which first began appearing in 1932.

* Herge’s 1932/1945 story Tintin in America.

* John Buchan’s A Prince of the Captivity (1933)

THE THIRTIES (1934–43)

miller tropic

* Henry Miller’s 1934 novel Tropic of Cancer.

* Herge’s 1934/1955 Tintin story Cigars of the Pharaoh.

* John Buchan’s Richard Hannay novel The Island of Sheep (1936).

* Herge’s 1936/1946 Tintin story The Blue Lotus.

* Geoffrey Household’s 1937 thriller The Third Hour.

* The Lady Vanishes is a 1938 British comic thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas and Dame May Whitty. Adapted from the 1936 novel The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White.

* Eric Ambler’s 1938 thriller Epitaph for a Spy.

* Eric Ambler’s 1938 thriller Cause for Alarm.

* Eric Ambler’s 1939 thriller The Mask of Dimitrios; US title: A Coffin for Dimitrios.

* Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser sword-and-sorcery stories, which first began appearing in 1939.

* Hammond Innes’s espionage thriller The Trojan Horse (1940).

* Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence Beresford spy novel N or M (1941).

* Lucy Beatrice Malleson, writing as Anthony Gilbert, penned mostly crime novels. But also a few espionage thrillers, including The Vanishing Corpse (1941), which was adapted as the film They Met in the Dark (1943).

THE FORTIES (1944–53)

* John A. Lee’s 1944 novel Shining with the Shiner, about a New Zealand idler.

* The Big Clock is a 1946 novel by Kenneth Fearing.

* 13 Rue Madeleine is a 1947 World War II spy film starring James Cagney, Annabella and Richard Conte. The title refers to the Le Havre address where a Gestapo headquarters is located.

* Johnny Fedora is a British secret agent who was the protagonist of 16 novels, written by Shaun Lloyd McCarthy under the pseudonym of Desmond Cory, published between 1951 and 1984. Fedora was dubbed by literary critics as the “thinking man’s James Bond.” Secret Ministry (1951) is the first Johnny Fedora novel.

* Michael Innes’s Operation Pax (The Paper Thunderbolt), published in 1951. A combination of chase novel, spy thriller, and academic mystery.

* Eric Ambler’s 1952 thriller Judgment on Deltchev.

* This Traitor, Death (1952) is the second of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* Ian Fleming’s first James Bond book, Casino Royale, was published in 1953. Bond is sent to play against and bankrupt Le Chiffre, the paymaster for a SMERSH-controlled trade union, in a high-stakes baccarat game in France. With help from CIA agent Felix Leiter, Bond wins the game, but is betrayed by Vesper Lynd, a double agent.

augie

* Saul Bellow’s 1953 novel The Adventures of Augie March is a sardonic inversion of the picaresque. Or perhaps an ironic homage?

* Dead Man Falling (1953) is the third of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

THE FIFTIES (1954–63)

* Ian Fleming’s second James Bond book, Live and Let Die, was published in 1954. Bond is sent to the United States to investigate “Mr. Big”, an agent of SMERSH and an underworld voodoo leader who is suspected of selling 17th century gold coins to finance Soviet spy operations in America. Bond’s friend and CIA ally, Felix Leiter, is captured and fed to a shark whilst Mr. Big’s fortune-telling girlfriend, Solitaire runs off with Bond.

* Thomas Mann’s 1954 novel Adventures of Felix Krull, Confidence Man (1954) is a sardonic inversion of the picaresque. Or perhaps an ironic homage?

* Intrigue (1954) is the fourth of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* Ian Fleming’s third James Bond book, Moonraker, was published in 1955. Bond joins M at Blades to stop a member, Sir Hugo Drax cheating at bridge. Bond is seconded onto Drax’s staff on the “Moonraker”, Britain’s first nuclear missile project. Bond discovers that Drax is an ex-Nazi, working for the Soviets; he also establishes that the rocket is not a defence, but is to be used by Drax to destroy London.

* Height of Day (1955) is the fifth of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* High Requiem (1956) is the sixth of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* Ian Fleming’s fourth James Bond book, Diamonds Are Forever, was published in 1956.

* Johnny Goes North (1956) is the seventh of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* Jack Kirby’s comic book team Challengers of the Unknown — who first appeared in a 1957 issue of Showcase, but then got their own title. The quartet of adventurers — pilot Kyle “Ace” Morgan, daredevil Matthew “Red” Ryan, strong and slow-witted Leslie “Rocky” Davis, and scientist Walter Mark “Prof” Haley — explored science fictional and apparent paranormal occurrences and faced fantastic menaces.

kerouac_on_the_road_viking_1957

* Not an adventure story, exactly, but: Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel On the Road. (Completed in 1951.)

* Ian Fleming’s fifth James Bond book, From Russia, With Love, was published in 1957.

* Candy is a 1958 sexual picaresque written by Maxwell Kenton (pseudonym of Terry Southern) in collaboration with Mason Hoffenberg. The story owes elements of its plotline to Voltaire’s Candide. Sardonic inversion.

* William Haggard’s 1958 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel Slow Burner. Haggard described his novels as “suspense stories with a political background.” The Sunday Express called him “the adults’ Ian Fleming.”

* An Elephant for Aristotle is a 1958 historical novel by L. Sprague de Camp. Leon of Atrax, a Thessalian cavalry commander, has been tasked by Alexander the Great to bring an elephant captured from the Indian ruler Porus to Athens as a present for Alexander’s old tutor, Aristotle. Leading a motley crew, Leon sets out to cross the whole of the ancient known world.

* Johnny Goes East (1958) is the eighth of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* Alexander Klein’s 1958 espionage thriller The Counterfeit Traitor. Adapted into a 1962 movie of the same title.

* Ian Fleming’s sixth James Bond book, Dr. No, was published in 1958.

* Eric Ambler’s 1959 thriller Passage of Arms.

* Not exactly an adventure story, but: Titus Alone is a novel written by Mervyn Peake and first published in 1959. It is the fourth work in the Gormenghast series.

* North by Northwest is a 1959 thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason.

* William Haggard’s 1959 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel Venetian Blind.

grass tin drum

* Günter Grass’s 1959 novel The Tin Drum (1959) is a sardonic inversion of the picaresque. Or perhaps an ironic homage?

* Johnny Goes West (1959) is the ninth of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* Ian Fleming’s seventh James Bond book, Goldfinger, was published in 1959.

* Johnny Goes South (1959) is the tenth of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* The Sot-Weed Factor is a 1960 novel by John Barth; it marks the beginning of Barth’s literary postmodernism. A satirical epic set in the 1680s–90s in London and colonial Maryland. Ebenezer Cooke undergoes adventures on his journey to and within Maryland while striving to preserve his virginity. Patterned on the writing of 17th-century novelists such as Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne and Tobias Smollett. Sardonic inversion!

* The Head (1960) is the eleventh of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* Ian Fleming’s eighth James Bond book, For Your Eyes Only, was published in 1960.

* Call for the Dead is John le Carré’s first novel, published in 1961. It introduces George Smiley. Sardonic inversion, to the extent that it de-glamorizes espionage and spies. Smiley has fallen from grace and is working in a relatively menial intelligence job, including security-clearing civil servants. He spends much of the story bemoaning the loss of the talented agents who were his mentors and their replacement by talentless civil-service bureaucrats. NB: Le Carré introduced Smiley at about the same time as Len Deighton’s unnamed anti-hero (Harry Palmer in the movie versions). This was a time when the critics and the public were welcoming more realistic versions of espionage fiction, in contrast to the glamorous world of Ian Fleming’s James Bond.

* William Haggard’s 1961 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel The Arena.

* The Phantom Tollbooth is a children’s adventure novel and modern fairy tale by Norton Juster. It was published in 1961 with illustrations by Jules Feiffer.

* Ian Fleming’s ninth James Bond book, Thunderball, was published in 1961.

* William Haggard’s 1962 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel The Unquiet Sleep.

* Undertow (1962) is the twelfth of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* Ian Fleming’s tenth James Bond book, The Spy Who Loved Me, was published in 1962.

* A Murder of Quality is John le Carré’s second novel, published in 1962. Sardonic inversion, to the extent that it de-glamorizes espionage and spies.

* Eric Ambler’s 1962 thriller The Light of Day, also published as Topkapi.

* The Prize is a 1963 spy film starring Paul Newman, Elke Sommer and Edward G. Robinson.

* William Haggard’s 1963 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel The High Wire.

* The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is John le Carré’s third novel, published in 1963. Sardonic inversion, to the extent that it de-glamorizes espionage and spies.

* Ian Fleming’s eleventh James Bond book, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was published in 1963.

* Hammerhead (1963) is the thirteenth of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

THE SIXTIES (1964–73)

* Not an adventure story, but: In 1964, 28-year-old Ken Kesey moved to a rural property outside of San Francisco and invited a multitalented group, later known as the Merry Pranksters, along.

eastwoodfisful

* Sergio Leone’s 1964 spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars, starring Clint Eastwood.

* Ian Fleming’s twelfth James Bond book, You Only Live Twice, was published in 1964. NB: Single-handedly started the ninja meme in the US.

* Hot Enough for June is a 1964 British spy comedy film directed by Ralph Thomas, and featuring Dirk Bogarde and Sylva Koscina. It spoofs the 1960 novel The Night of Wenceslas by Lionel Davidson. A sardonic inversion of this theme.

* That Man From Rio (French: L’Homme de Rio) is a 1964 adventure film directed by Philippe de Broca and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Françoise Dorléac. A sardonic inversion of this theme.

* William Haggard’s 1964 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel The Antagonists.

* Ian Fleming’s thirteenth James Bond book, The Man with the Golden Gun, was published in 1965.

* The Looking Glass War is John le Carré’s fourth novel, published in 1965. Sardonic inversion, to the extent that it de-glamorizes espionage and spies.

* Sergio Leone’s 1965 spaghetti western For a Few Dollars More, starring Clint Eastwood.

* The Ipcress File (1965), the first in a trilogy of British spy films starring Michael Caine. Based on the Len Deighton novel.

* William Haggard’s 1965 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel The Hard Sell.

* William Haggard’s 1965 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel The Powder Barrel.

beatles help

* Not an adventure story, but: The Beatles’ comical adventure movie Help! (1965).

* Sergio Leone’s 1966 spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, starring Clint Eastwood.

* Funeral in Berlin is a 1966 British spy film based on the novel Funeral in Berlin by Len Deighton. It is the second of three 1960s films starring Michael Caine that followed the characters from the initial film, The Ipcress File (1965).

* Feramontov (1966) is the fourteenth of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* The 1966–69 TV show Star Trek.

* The 1966–73 spy TV show Mission Impossible.

* William Haggard’s 1966 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel The Power House.

the-dolly-dolly-spy-cover

* Frederick Adam Diment’s The Dolly Dolly Spy (1967) is the first of four novels about the adventures of British spy Philip McAlpine — whom Anthony Boucher described as “an agent who smokes hashish, leads a highly active sex life, kills vividly, uses (or even coins) the latest London slang and still seems a perfectly real (and even oddly likeable) young man rather than a reflected Bond image.” Sardonic inversion?

* Timelock (1967) is the fifteenth of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* William Haggard’s 1967 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel The Conspirators.

* Billion Dollar Brain is a 1967 British espionage film directed by Ken Russell and starring Michael Caine, the third of three based on novels by Len Deighton.

* Not an adventure story, but: The Beatles’ comical adventure movie Magical Mystery Tour (1967).

* Lloyd Alexander’s 1967 YA fantasy novel Taran Wanderer, an installment in the Prydain series.

* William Haggard’s 1968 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel A Cool Day for Killing.

* A Small Town in Germany is John le Carré’s fifth novel, published in 1968. Sardonic inversion, to the extent that it de-glamorizes espionage and spies.

* Kingsley Amis wrote a James Bond novel: Colonel Sun (1968).

* Frederick Adam Diment’s The Great Spy Race (1968) is the second of four novels about the adventures of British spy Philip McAlpine. Sardonic inversion?

* Not an adventure story, but: The Beatles’ comical adventure movie Yellow Submarine (1968).

* Frederick Adam Diment’s The Bang Bang Birds (1968) is the third of four novels about the adventures of British spy Philip McAlpine. Sardonic inversion?

* William Haggard’s 1970 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel The Hardliners.

thompson loathing

* Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Sardonic inversion of the picaresque.

* Michael Innes’s 1971 spy thriller An Awkward Lie, maybe?

* The Naive and Sentimental Lover is John le Carré’s sixth novel, published in 1971. Sardonic inversion, to the extent that it de-glamorizes espionage and spies.

* Frederick Adam Diment’s Think, Inc. (1971) is the fourth of four novels about the adventures of British spy Philip McAlpine. Sardonic inversion?

* William Haggard’s 1971 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel The Bitter Harvest.

* Sunburst (1971) is the sixteenth and final of Desmond Cory’s Johnny Fedora spy novels.

* William Haggard’s 1973 Colonel Charles Russell spy novel The Old Masters.

* Duncan Kyle’s 1973 spy novel The Suvarov Adventure.

THE SEVENTIES (1974–83)

* Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is John le Carré’s seventh novel, published in 1974. Sardonic inversion, to the extent that it de-glamorizes espionage and spies.

* Clive Egleton’s 1974 novel The October Plot.

* The Black Windmill is a 1974 British spy thriller directed by Don Siegel and starring Michael Caine, John Vernon, Janet Suzman and Donald Pleasence.

* Brian Garfield’s 1975 novel Hopscotch, which was adapted into the 1980 Walter Matthau movie of the same title. A sardonic inversion?

* Gerald Seymour’s 1975 novel Harry’s Game. A British cabinet minister is gunned down by an IRA assassin, leaving an undercover agent to track down the killer.

* Three Days of the Condor is a 1975 American political thriller film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, and Max von Sydow. The screenplay was adapted from the 1974 novel Six Days of the Condor by James Grady.

* The Honorable Schoolboy is John le Carré’s eighth novel, published in 1977. Sardonic inversion, to the extent that it de-glamorizes espionage and spies.

Hitchhiker-s-Guide-douglas-adams-657242_451_700

* Douglas Adams’s 1978 radio comedy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — featuring Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, Trillian, and Marvin.

* Smiley’s People is John le Carré’s ninth novel, published in 1979. Sardonic inversion, to the extent that it de-glamorizes espionage and spies.

* John Kennedy Toole’s 1980 novel A Confederacy of Dunces is a sardonic inversion of — or perhaps an ironic homage to — the picaresque.

* Robert Ludlum’s 1980 spy novel The Bourne Identity.

* The first of sixteen James Bond novels by John Gardner was published in 1981: License Renewed.

* Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez’s Love and Rockets comics — first published in 1981. An ironic homage to the picaresque adventure.

* The Little Drummer Girl is John le Carré’s tenth novel, published in 1983. Sardonic inversion, to the extent that it de-glamorizes espionage and spies.

THE EIGHTIES (1984–93)

* Robert Ludlum’s 1986 spy novel The Bourne Supremacy.

* A Perfect Spy is John le Carré’s eleventh novel, published in 1986. Sardonic inversion, to the extent that it de-glamorizes espionage and spies.

* John Le Carré’s 1989 espionage thriller The Russia House. Sardonic inversion.

* The Package is a 1989 political thriller film directed by Andrew Davis and starring Gene Hackman. Set during the Cold War, the film portrays an assassination conspiracy within both the U.S. and Soviet militaries.

* Robert Ludlum’s 1990 spy novel The Bourne Ultimatum.

* John Le Carré’s 1990 espionage thriller The Secret Pilgrim. Sardonic inversion.

* John Le Carré’s 1993 espionage thriller The Night Manager. Sardonic inversion.

THE NINETIES (1994–2003)

Cryptonomicon(1stEd)

* Cryptonomicon is a 1999 novel by American author Neal Stephenson. The novel follows a group of World War II-era Allied codebreakers and tactical-deception operatives; and also descendants of the first narrative’s characters employing cryptologic, telecom and computer technology to build an underground data haven. Their goal is to distribute Holocaust Education and Avoidance Pod (HEAP) media for instructing genocide-target populations on defensive warfare.

THE TWENTY-OUGHTS (2004–13)

* TBD

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20 ADVENTURE THEMES AND MEMES: Introduction | Index to Entire Series | The Robinsonade (theme: DIY) | The Robinsonade (theme: Un-Alienated Work) | The Robinsonade (theme: Cozy Catastrophe) | The Argonautica (theme: All for One, One for All) | The Argonautica (theme: Crackerjacks) | The Argonautica (theme: Argonaut Folly) | The Argonautica (theme: Beautiful Losers) | The Treasure Hunt | The Frontier Epic | The Picaresque | The Avenger Drama (theme: Secret Identity) | The Avenger Drama (theme: Self-Liberation) | The Avenger Drama (theme: Reluctant Bad-Ass) | The Atavistic Epic | The Hide-And-Go-Seek Game (theme: Artful Dodger) | The Hide-And-Go-Seek Game (theme: Conspiracy Theory) | The Hide-And-Go-Seek Game (theme: Apophenia) | The Survival Epic | The Ruritanian Fantasy | The Escapade

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MORE FURSHLUGGINER THEORIES BY JOSH GLENN: We Are Iron Man! | And We Lived Beneath the Waves | Is It A Chamber Pot? | I’d Like to Force the World to Sing | The Argonaut Folly | The Perfect Flâneur | The Twentieth Day of January | The Dark Side of Scrabble | The YHWH Virus | Boston (Stalker) Rock | The Sweetest Hangover | The Vibe of Dr. Strange | Tyger! Tyger! | Star Wars Semiotics | The Original Stooge | Fake Authenticity | Camp, Kitsch & Cheese | Stallone vs. Eros | The UNCLE Hypothesis | Icon Game | Meet the Semionauts | The Abductive Method | Semionauts at Work | Origin of the Pogo | The Black Iron Prison | Blue Krishma! | Big Mal Lives! | Schmoozitsu | You Down with VCP? | Calvin Peeing Meme | Daniel Clowes: Against Groovy | The Zine Revolution (series) | Best Adventure Novels (series) | Debating in a Vacuum (notes on the Kirk-Spock-McCoy triad) | Pluperfect PDA (series) | Double Exposure (series) | Fitting Shoes (series) | Cthulhuwatch (series) | Shocking Blocking (series) | Quatschwatch (series) | Save the Adventure (series)

READ MORE essays by Joshua Glenn, originally published in: THE BAFFLER | BOSTON GLOBE IDEAS | BRAINIAC | CABINET | FEED | HERMENAUT | HILOBROW | HILOBROW: GENERATIONS | HILOBROW: RADIUM AGE SCIENCE FICTION | HILOBROW: SHOCKING BLOCKING | THE IDLER | IO9 | N+1 | NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW | SEMIONAUT | SLATE

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What do you think?

  1. Would Frederick Forsyth’s novels count as picaresque? There are picaresque elements in most of his better books (Fourth Protocol, Day of the Jackal, Dogs of War, the Odessa File, etc.), but I’m not sure if they qualify as straight picaresques.

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