RARA-AVIS: Still on Daly

From: Juri Nummelin ( jurnum@utu.fi)
Date: 23 May 2001

On Wed, 23 May 2001, George Upper wrote:

> Although there are certainly ficitonal precedents to
> Terry Mack, there are no non-fictional precedents of
> which I am aware.

I'm not sure I'm getting your point here. Why should there be? What would it matter, if there had been non-fictional precedents? Do you mean that all the fictional characters in the history of literature are born out of non-fictional precedents? Or a critic must seek the precedents from the outside world? This sounds pretty weird to me.

I don't mean that literature exists in a vacuum that is blocked away from the outside world, but I would say that the textual precedents matter more. Like I said earlier, Daly must've known pulp magazine heroes of the late 1910's and early 1920's. He just mixed everything together, but didn't really come up with anything new.

As to the question why he is still regarded as the first P.I. writer, I can only say that's how literary history works. There is a canon, a body of acknowledged works, and there is nothing beyond it. Daly, however hated or disliked he is, is a part of the canon. Gordon Young, about whom I wrte, isn't. Someone should do a favour and break the canon. It hurts me that a writer as bad as Daly gets all the fame.


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