The Edgar Box Mysteries

France, 1953
France, 1955
Italy, 1955
Italy, 1956
Italy, 1967

Vidal's Edgar Box mystery novels have not been translated as widely as his literary novels, although readers in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Japan and Russia have enjoyed the books in their own languages. The row above shows five of the oldest Box translations, including the 1953 French edition of Death in the Fifth Position, the first Edgar Box translation anywhere in the world. After these early French editions appeared, Box soon turned up in Swedish, Italian and French Canadian editions in the 1950s. Since then, the Edgar Box novels have been translated into Japanese (below), German, Russian and Spanish (bottom row).

FEATURED PAGE: A slide show of all Edgar Box covers

Notice that the 1955 French edition of Death Likes It Hot (above, second from left) misspells the author's name on the cover of the book, although the name on the title page inside the book is spelled correctly. And notice the two Italian editions of Death Likes It Hot, above right, with two slightly different translations of the title: The 1967 translation omits the preposition "il," making it "death likes heat" as opposed to "death likes the heat." The 1950s translations didn't unmask the true author of the books, but the 1960 Japanese paperback did: The back cover of the book reveals the true identify of Edgar Box, and the text has a four-page afterword that discusses Vidal's other work published under his real name, thus making it the earliest edition of a Box novel that blows Vidal's cover. The 1962-3 German paperback editions, one of which is pictured below, merely refer to Edgar Box as "a pseudonym for a well-known American author of literature." Yet despite the 1960 Japanese unmasking of Edgar Box, thorough sleuths could have discovered Box's true identity as early as 1953, the year after the first novel appeared. The 1949-1952 volume of Cumulative Book Index, a contemporary reference guide, lists "Edgar Box" as a pseudonym for Gore Vidal, although granted, such evidence is akin to the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Sweden, 1955
Japan, 1960
Germany, 1962
Spain, 1987
Russia, 2002