Re: RARA-AVIS: Race Williams and the KKK

From: George Upper (
Date: 22 May 2001

--- Mark Sullivan <> wrote:
> This may be the wrong place for this statement, but
> what about the
> cowboy?

Well, I did say "arguably." The cowboy is up there, too, but there was less invention involved. Whoever
"invented" the western genre (not my field, I'm afraid) started out not by creating something new, but by stretching the truth about real people--Buffalo Bill Cody, Wyatt Earp, etc. (I'm not talking about the earliest westerns, which I suppose could be traced back to James Fenimore Cooper, but the "action" western as we know it today).

Daly pretty much just made something up. The people he wrote about never existed--not even close. He just invented a character that survived in the supposed no-man's-land between the law and the criminals (this is a huge theme in Daly's work). Certainly, there were things like gangsterism and police corruption in the real world of the 1920s that would contribute to this development, but Daly invented the hard-boiled private eye himself. No one invented the cowboy--well, except the cowboys, of course.

Still, in terms of simple recognizability (there's got to be a better word for that), I'd have to agree that the cowboy is up there, too. Although I think we need to stop talking about this--we'll never get into hard-boiled heaven this way.


===== George C. Upper III UNC-Greensboro
(336) 393-0013 The city don't know that the city is getting... a show with everything but Yul Brynner

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