RE: RARA-AVIS: Hard-Boiled vs Noir

Bill Hagen (
Tue, 28 Jul 1998 22:43:37 -0500 (CDT) ejm duggan writes on Tues. (7/28), concerning my Mon. post,
>I don't mean to be picky here Bill, I'm just trying to be clear: are you
>saying in the above that hb is pessimistic while noir is more
>(If so, I think that's a nice distinction.)
>A second point, on naturalism: are you suggesting naturalism is
>inherently pessimistic? I don't think it has to be so.

Picking up Mario's statement that noir tends to be more pessimistic, and
relating it, through Cawelti (fr. Adventure, Mystery, Romance) to literary
naturalism. You're right that naturalism doesn't have to be pessimistic or
fatalistic; it can detail a very bleak picture that moves one to seek a
remedy, as in The Jungle. So I'm relating the hope for remedy, small
though it may be, to the hard-boiled PI or the "fixer" with a code--the
best we can hope for, and good enough. Sometimes enduring is enough.
[What's the interior monologue from Farewell, My Lovely when Marlowe is
coming out of the drug sleep, before he lays out the guy with the bed
spring? Something about how much he's taken, and what he needs to do.]

Would I defend to the last breath these speculations? Naw. But I would
argue that tracing roots can help one make distinctions, can highlight
certain features.

What about the "Chump Test" (7/27)--you rare birds like that one?

Bill Hagen

# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# The web pages for the list are at