Re: RARA-AVIS: Hopeless?

M-T (
Sat, 17 Apr 1999 14:19:37 -0800 I don't like the word "hopeless" in relation to hardboiled - it is more
appropriate, though not precise enough, for the noir genre. For example,
Elmore Leonard's hardboiled novels do not present a hopeless vision of
the world. Rather, they present a world that is rich because all shades
of good and bad coexist (in fact, he shows that the good and the bad
guys are basically the same kind of people).

Likewise, Chandler has a pessimistic attitude towards organized society
and the class system, but he (or Marlowe) is not hopeless about
individuals. In fact, Marlowe is a sucker for anyone who's half nice.
He's not always a good judge of character, but he definitely doesn't
hold the attitude that everyone is screwed up.

Even in Goodis, one of the darkest of the noir writers, there is some
faith in people. This faith is almost always misplaced but it's there as
a default assumption.

Real hopelessness would make hardboiled writing impossible. There would
be nothing to drive the adventures of the hero (more recently, the


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