Re: Re[2]: RARA-AVIS: Broadly speaking

James Rogers (
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 22:33:21 -0500 (CDT) At 11:54 AM 8/25/98 -0400, James Doherty wrote:
> I still think that any crime novel that is tough-minded and colloquial is
hard-boiled. How many minutes it's been boiling may be a matter of debate,
but not its hardness relative to most crime fiction.

Well, I guess I take the "middle path" on this
topic. For one thing I resist the notion that a hard-boiled book *has* to be
a crime novel. _For instance, McCoy's _They Shoot Horses, Don't They?_ is
only secondarily a crime novel yet it has always been a touchstone for folks
seeking to define what constitutes "hardboiled". Same for Nathaniel West. On
the other hand, Mr. Doherty's defintion is hard to dispute except to the
extent that it includes a lot of books that we probably were not thinking
of....._Huckleberry Finn_ is colloquial and tough -minded (although
Hemingway would have said that this was absolutely right and that it was the
father of the hardboiled book).

Mr. Duggan and I occasionally push Madden's
anthology of is a *small* part of his (Madden's)definition. I
thought that it wa interesting, pretty good, and touches on a lot of the
topics that we have covered.

"What is a tough guy or hardboiled novel?.....a
few observations are appropriate here. The lower social and economic levels
provide the locale and characters of tough novels; it is mainly the private
detective novels that penetrate to the underworld, and in those novels high
society often completes the social picture - the poles meet, clash, merge,
often prove essentially identical.....[Madden makes the point that the
protagonist thrives in periods of social confusion and disillusion, such as
the depression].....The tough guy hero is not very often a professional
killer or criminal; such men are tough in any era. Except in the private
detective novels, the tough novels depict less crime and violence than one
might imagine......Reacting in kind to the indifferent, violent,
deceptiveworld that made him, the tough guy describes and reponds
objectively to a world that made him an object."


James Michael Rogers
Mundus Vult Decipi

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