Who is Arsène Lupin, gentleman thief?
PUBLISHED: 16:48 13 January 2021 | UPDATED: 09:11 14 January 2021
Everyone is talking about the new French Netflix series Lupin, but who is Arsène Lupin, the beloved fictional burglar that inspired the heist series?
Arsène Lupin is often considered France’s answer to Sherlock Holmes but he is also comparable to Robin Hood as when he steals, he steals from the rich. Created by French Author Maurice Leblanc – who was born in Rouen, Normandy in 1864 – Lupin was featured in numerous novels and short stories. The witty character is a master of disguise with a Gallic flair who both solves and creates mysteries, often bending rules and outsmarting the authorities to do so.
In one book L’Aiguille Creuse (The Hollow Needle), Lupin unlocks the secret to the lost treasures of French kings, hidden in the needle rock off the Étretat coast in Normandy. Today in Étretat, the author’s former holiday home has been turned into a small museum which is set up with a turn-of-the-century interior, as if it is the house of gentleman thief himself. The museum leads visitors to uncover secrets about the author and the character.
Lupin vs Holmes
Lupin first appeared in the short story L’Arrestation d’Arsène Lupin which was published in the French magazine Je Sais Tout on 15 July 1905. The series of short stories was also published as a collection Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Cambrioleur in 1907.
The comparison to Mr Holmes was not lost on Leblanc who actually includes the British detective in a couple of his stories. In La Dame Blonde, Holmes must discover the identity of a mysterious female thief who is linked to Lupin.
Modern day adaptation
Beloved in France, the stories have been adapted into a variety of plays, TV shows and films over the years.
In the latest Netflix offering set-in modern-day Paris, Assane Diop (played by Omar Sy) deeply admires the character of Arsène Lupin. He makes a plan to seek revenge for his father’s unjust death, which occurred when Assane was a young teenager, by stealing a necklace from the Louvre. The French language series Lupin is available to watch on Netflix in the UK now, with English subtitles available.
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