RARA-AVIS: Snobbery with Violence

Etienne Borgers (freeweb@rocketmail.com)
Tue, 9 Mar 1999 01:49:01 -0800 (PST) Snobbery with Violence - English Crime Stories and
their Audience- by Colin Watson.

It happens I read parts of this book here and there,
in the past, but never before did I read the whole
book by Colin Watson. I retrieved recently a
paperback copy, published in the UK by Methuen in
1987, with the text of the second edition of 1979- so
I could finally get the whole picture.
This essay is certainly known by lots of Rara
followers as well, but I want to recall how brilliant
it is!

It deconstructs the social and cultural implications
of the British classical detection novels, with
intelligence, justification and ... a hard whip!
Nothing of the too often boring prose offered by the
scholarly essays on popular literature, no unnecessary
"specialized" jargon here. On the contrary, a very
clear and refined style of writing, sometimes tong in
the cheek, but always to the point.

We all know here, in R-A, what is not hard-boiled or
noir in crime and mystery literature. A number of us
most probably cannot stand the over-rating given to
classical detection novels, for very good (or bad)
reasons. Watson's essay is a masterful display of the
most negative implications of the British detection
literature, and puts into the right words what we
probably felt already in a more confuse way.
With merciless approach, he also rightfully analyses
in his book the reasons of success for inferior
literature amongst the general public... and it hurts.

A must read (or re-read); an indispensable complement
for understanding more clearly what makes the best of
HB/Noir so valuable.

And a very enjoyable reading, due to the talent of
Colin Watson.
(There is even an amusing chapter dedicated to
Fleming and James Bond)

Like I always said: "We do not care if the butler did

Hard-Boiled Mysteries

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