Re: RARA-AVIS: hard boiled creation & Ross Macdonald

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 11 Jun 2001

a.n.smith wrote:

<<You may think he is wrong to do this, but Ross Macdonald
*was* part of the hard-boiled school. His early work echoed Chandler's Marlowe books, but then he found this new voice. True, it was more psychological than external, but that happened to the gothic, too, which grew from its formula into a more complex label when Frankenstein came along. Just because it was a shift doesn't make it less hard-boiled. He just took the loner PI idea in a different direction.>>

I think that, after The Galton Case, Lew Archer is no longer a hardboiled detective. He is a tired, pessimistic detective, a pretty polite and civilized one, a compassionate one. The classic hardboiled detective could just as easily have been a criminal; not so Archer. To be sure, this transformation of the hardboiled PI into a noble knight started with Chandler's Marlowe, but Marlowe is still a violent guy who cuts a lot of corners and cracks heads in order to get things done. He is still of the old school, a detective from the pulps. He lives in danger and has fun with danger. Post-Galtonian (!) Archer does not have much fun, he just goes ahead and takes on cases. He is watching people and analyzing them.

<<I've always seen Macdonald listed with the hard-boiled writers, so your comment puzzled me.>>

Yes, that's the conventional placed assigned him, but we have to be careful with labels. This is rara-avis. We like to make things complicated...

Best regards,


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