1971 French translation of Chester Himes novel shows woman with smart phone


Joshua Glenn says: "I've just discovered that the French already had BlackBerries iPhones... back in 1960. Who knew?"

What is she holding?



  1. The headlines around this place these days…

    I’m surprised you didn’t say “…shows an angry mob with smart phone”.


  2. I’m surprised nobody has guessed it yet. It’s fairly obviously a transistor radio. The unnaturally bent thumb is either working the volume or, more likely, tuning wheel to keep the station in tune in the days before AFC tuners.

  3. These ladies are obviously way ahead of their time in terms of technology. But let us not neglect to also notice their keen fashion sense. Absolutely smashing outfits.

  4. I believe it might be a “Polaroid land camera”. I’ve seen a few of these in antique stores. They come in brown and black. They are “collapsible” and in their closed state they look a lot like that. It could also be a “Canon 110″. Here’s some pics…

    Polaroid Land Camera:




    Canon 110:


  5. ITA with #11. I had a transistor radio in the late 60’s, right about this size and with a similar black cover.

    It’s too big for an iPhone, in any case.

  6. Newsflash: people have been making small, compact, rectangular things for various uses since the industrial revolution.

  7. @ #11 A Nonny Moose


    What, nobody thinks we had nifty electronic pocket gadgets back then?

    They are probably digging on some cool French sole and blues.

    No piracy involved! They have to listen to the ads if it isn’t public or government.

    I still prefer a personal radio to a anything else when I am working. It makes me feel more connected.

  8. @9 I was just to make the same comment, but than I double-checked and found that “the real cool killers” has been translated in Italian several times, but never with that title (which would sound incredibly rude, as negro is the n-word in Italian). It is definitely a French edition, you can check here: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_Himes

    Imbroglio is a legit word in French (with a slightly different meaning than in italian). Negro is not a French word, at least I cannot find it in the dictionaries; maybe the translator wanted to give it an exotic taste… Is there any french speaker that can comment on this?

  9. no Negro is or a harsh racist insult if alone use or a “fioritura” if in stranger langage use (as “negro spiritual”).
    for me the thing the mama hold is just as the one of my mother when we went to the market then : a big flat purse with a pound at least of bright nickel & copper coins which a stolen handfull was not even nuf to buy an ice cream but just a condom, so why young we were skinny than american ones then..it’s a kind of imbroglio

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