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Frédéric Dard

Frédéric Dard in 1992

Frédéric Dard (Frédéric Charles Antoine Dard, 29 June 1921 in Bourgoin-Jallieu, Isère - 6 June 2000 in Switzerland) was a French writer and author of the San-Antonio series.


  • Biography 1
  • Bibliography 2
  • Quotations 3
  • External links 4


He is one of the most famous French crime novels writers of the second half of the 20th century. He was also one of the most prolific, since he wrote more than 300 novels throughout his career. Under the pseudonym of San-Antonio (with the dash, which was originally a mistake), which he chose randomly with his finger on a map of America while he was looking for an English-sounding name for the famous police superintendent who is the main hero of his novels. San-Antonio is both in the case the main hero and the pseudonym of the writer, and books are written in the first person.

Frédéric Dard wrote 173 adventures of San-Antonio, of which millions of copies were sold. A San-Antonio is likely to be found in any French household. Detective Superintendent Antoine San-Antonio is a kind of French James Bond without gadgets, flanked by two colleagues, the old, sickly but wise inspector César Pinaud and the gargantuesque inspector Alexandre-Benoît Bérurier. He is a member of the French secret service and has to fulfill impossible missions given by "Le Vieux" (the Old Man), later known as "Achilles", the head of the French police. With the help of his colleagues he always succeeds through various adventures.

Written in a classical crime novel style at the beginning in the 50's (classic spy stories), San Antonio adventures become more satirical from the beginning of the sixties and leave the strict format of the crime novel literature. The style is very influenced by the French writer Céline but is also full of French slang and new words coined by the author himself (to the point of publishing a specific San-Antonio Dictionnary), which makes it quite difficult for non-native speakers. Frequent are the digressions where the author goes on ranting or raving about anything at hand, addressing the reader directly, often with sarcasm and mockery.


San-Antonio adventures are translated in different languages, such as Italian, Romanian and Russian. A few have been translated into English:

  1. Tough Justice (Messieurs les hommes), by Cyril Buhler, Sphere Books, London, 1967; Duckworth, London, 1969; Norton, New York, 1969; Paperback Library 63-287, New York
  2. Stone Dead (C'est mort et ça ne sait pas), by Cyril Buhler, 1969, Paperback Library 63-283, New York, 1970
  3. Thugs And Bottles (Du brut pour les brutes), by Cyril Buhler, Sphere Books, London, 1969; Paperback Library 63-306, New York, 1970
  4. The Strangler (La fin des haricots), by Cyril Buhler, 1968, Sphere Books, London, 1969; Paperback Library 63-326, New York, 1970
  5. Knights Of Arabia (Bérurier au sérail), by Cyril Buhler, Duckworth, London, 1969; Paperback Library 63-341, New York, 1970
  6. From A To Z (De "A" jusqu'à "Z"), by Hugh Campbell, Duckworth, 1970, ISBN 0-7156-0410-4 (9780715604106); Paperback Library 63-352, 1970
  7. Crook's Hill, Paperback Library 63-342, New York
  8. The Sub Killers (La rate au court bouillon), by Cyril Buhler, Michael Joseph, 1971, ISBN 0-7181-0868-X (9780718108687)
  9. Alien Archipelago (L'archipel des malotrus), By hugh Campbell, Michael Joseph, London, 1971, ISBN 0-7181-0869-8 (9780718108694)

Apart from San-Antonio Frédéric Dard wrote a great deal of novels under various other pseudonyms, such as Frederic Antony, Verne Goody, William Blessings, Cornel Milk, Frederic Charles or L'Ange Noir, to give only a short list.

There is no monograph on San-Antonio or Frédéric Dard in English. For further reading, see (in French)

Dominique Jeannerod, ″San-Antonio et son double″, PUF, Paris, 2010

Raymond Milési, ″San-Antonio premier flic de France″, DLM, Paris, 1996

François Rivière, ″Frédéric Dard ou la vie privée de San-Antonio″, Fleuve Noir, Paris 2010

Françoise Rullier-Theuret, ″Faut pas pisser sur les vieilles recettes : San-Antonio ou la fascination pour le genre Romanesque″, Bruylant-Academia, Bruxelles, 2008


  • « Et puisque notre destin est de finir dans un trou, fasse le ciel qu'il ait du poil autour ! » / "And since our destiny is to finish in a hole, let's praise the Heaven there will be hair around it!" (La Sexualité, p. 14, coll. Presses Pocket, No 1115, Éd. Fleuve Noir, 1971)
  • « Je me croyais chêne, je n’étais qu’un gland. » First reading : « I thought I was an oak, I was in fact an acorn. » The phrase plays with the polysemy of the word "gland", which means not only "acorn", but also "prat" (or "jerk") and "glans penis", giving two extra meanings.
  • « Trente centimètres, c'est petit pour un nain, mais c'est grand pour une bite. » / "Thirty centimeters, that's small for a dwarf, but it's big for a cock."
  • « Ses grandes dents excluent mes rêves de fellation les plus impétueux. » / "Her big teeth exclude my wildest fellatio fantasies."
  • « En le questionnant, tu risques de lui mettre le prépuce à l'oreille. » This can be explained but not directly translated. "mettre la puce à l'oreille", literally to "put a flea in the ear", means to let someone know that "something is up". "prépuce" is "foreskin". The phrase « En le questionnant, tu risques de lui mettre la puce à l'oreille. » means "If you question him, you risk letting him know that something is up." But with "prépuce", it means, "If you question him, you risk sticking a foreskin in his ear". It is a pun, a play on similar-sounding words. Possibly hinting that the element of knowledge mentioned is of a sexual nature.
  • « Tout ce que pense, dit et fait un con est con. » / "All that a dumb ass thinks, says or does is dumb."
  • « L'amour, d'abord, ça ne se dit pas, ça se fait. » / "First, you can't tell love. You make it."
  • « Regardez bien les hommes. Et maintenant, regardez-moi ! Vous ne trouvez pas que je leur ressemble ? » / "Look at men. And now, look at me! Don't you think I look like them?"
  • « Un piéton est un monsieur qui va chercher sa voiture. » / "A pedestrian is someone walking to get his car" (Les Pensées de San-Antonio, p. 141, Éd. Pocket no10342, 1996)
  • « Mon Dieu, je vous en supplie, qui que vous soyez, soyez ! » / "My God, please, whoever you are, be!" (Les Pensées de San-Antonio, p. 192, Éd. Pocket no10342, 1996)
  • « Un con est exquis, pourvu qu'il se taise. » / "A dumb ass is exquisite, as long as he doesn't say anything." May be related to the fact that "con" means both "dumb ass" and "cunt" in French slang.
  • « Il y a des gens qui disent la vérité comme une montre arrêtée donne l'heure : deux fois par jour et pas longtemps. » / "Some people say the truth like stopped watches: twice in a day, and not for a long time."
  • « Comment trouves-tu mes fesses ? - Très facilement ! » / "How did you find my bottom? - Very easily!"
  • « Ah ! si les hommes voulaient s'aider ! Ah ! si les femmes voulaient céder ! » "Ah! If only men would help each other! Ah! If only women would give in!" S'aider and céder are homophones.
  • « Quand l'amour croît en toi, crois en lui. » "When love grows in you, believe in it." A very subtle pun.
  • « Je me demande si la mort vaut vraiment le coup d'être vécue. » / "I'm wondering if death is worth living it."
  • « Les dix plus belles années d'une femme sont entre l'âge de 27 et 30 ans. » / "A woman's best ten years are between the ages of 27 and 30."
  • « La seule émission qui mérite que l'on paye sa redevance télé est Questions pour un champion » (The only TV show worthy of paying the national TV tax is 'Going for Gold'.)
  • « Si tous les cons volaient, il ferait nuit » / "If all dumb asses were flying, it would be night." (Les Con)
  • « Le cultivateur emmene sa femme au champ pour labourer » / another salacious pun; at first sight, it means “the farmer brings his wife to the field to plough it” (labourer), but if you split the word to «la bourrer», the phrase becomes “the farmer brings his wife to the field to ‘stuff’ her”, meaning, of course, “to fuck her”.
  • "There are three categories of women: whores, bitches and bloody nuisances. The whores sleep with everyone, the bitches sleep with everyone except you, the bloody nuisances sleep only with you." Thoughts of San-Antonio, 1996

External links

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