RARA-AVIS: Re: Passports, please...

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 31 Aug 2001

Mark wrote:

>I think there's probably distinct advantages to both outsider and
>insider status. Outsiders could very well recognize and highlight taken
>for granted characteristics; insiders could have access to levels an
>outsider would never get to see. It's the old emic/edic debate in the
>social sciences.

I agree, but I think there are all sorts of ways to define an outsider. Alienation, whether cultural, geographical, racial, sexual, social or whatever, and even if it's only imagined, might just be a defining characteristic of anyone who dares to create.

But forget sex cats, what the hell's emic/edic?

Sounds like a duet album by two rappers...

And Juri wrote:

>But Eliot really seems and reads more English/British than American.
>Chandler is unmistakably American in style and context.

But does that make him an American writer? Or just a good mimic? Would a foreign writer working in an "unmistakably American... style and context" therefore automatically become an American writer?

And if there is some sort of American style, what is it? And how does it correspond with such different "unmistakably American" writers as,say, Norman Mailer, James Fenimore Cooper, Erica Jong, Mark Twain, Anne Tyler, John Updike and Danielle Steele?

I can see certain themes and issues constantly recurring in a society's literature, but an actual literary style?

Compared to his contemporaries in the genre, Chandler seems much more formal (British?) than his pulp buddies, particularly in his descriptive passages.

And likewise, what is an American context? Do you mean setting?

A writer is the sum of his experience. To zero in on one part of that experience and dismiss another seems dishonest. It's a great big mix and match world. Nothing is pure, nothing is unmistakable. Break out the hypens, and live with it.

The only thing Chandler is, truly and unmistakably, is Chandler.


Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com
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