Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Why are you here?

From: Bob Toomey (
Date: 28 Jan 2000

Juri Nummelin wrote:

> Hardboiled literature is proletarian, has always been that -
> the pulps were for the working men (women? I don't know). Hence the
> racism in early HB, the rich had the privilege to have a tolerant view
> towards minorities and women. So the goddam S.S. Van Dines seem more
> liberal than most of the pulps.

In the earlier discussion, hardboiled vs. cozy, this part of the equasion didn't come up. Maybe it was implied. The cozy is middle class, taking place in a stable world. Murder is an aberation. The detective solves the murder and restores stability. HB is lower to lower middle class, taking place in an unstable world. Murder and exploitation are the norm. The detective may solve the puzzle, but the world remains unstable. I expect most of us on this list find this a more accurate picture of society. But racism is pervasive in both hardboiled and cozies, especially antisemitism. S.S. Van Dine, and to some extent his acolyte Ellery Queen, were exceptions (but it must be said that not being overtly racist does not mean being liberal; Van Dine and Queen were essentially conservative; Rex Stout, who acknowledged and dealt with racism directly, was a liberal -- and there's got to be a way out of these parenthesis). Ah, better. For some really instructive reading, try Richard Wright's NATIVE SON, a hardboiled proletarian crime novel -- don't tell the lit. teachers this, they'll freak -- told from a black perspective.


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