From: Dick Lochte ( dlochte@home.com)
Date: 07 Sep 2001

Jim Doherty writes:

I'll allow that Holmes (and, for that matter, war vet Watson) are tough men. But they're not hard-boiled because toughness isn't all there is to it.

"Hard-boiled" means tough AND colloquial. It implies a certain "blue-collar" ethos that Holmes and Watson, staid Victorian gentlemen that they are, simply don't have.

In other words, though they may walk the walk, they don't talk the talk. And, to be hardboiled, talking the talk is almost as important as walking the walk.


I don't believe language is a crucial part of being hardboiled since, in literature at least, it's about attitude and action, not talk. Nor do I think that blue-collar ethos is a necessity. There's a long line of British clubmen -- from Bulldog Drummond to James Bond -- who have their hardboiled moments. That goes for cricketer A.J. Raffles as well. Lawyers like Perry Mason or Steve Martini's character (name momentarily escapes me) have at least a touch of the hardboiled in them. Ditto FBI and CIA heroes and villains. I don't get one blue collar vibe from the chess-playing poetic Marlowe. That goes double when it comes to Spencer and Elvis Cole. In his last novel, Spillane had the former common man Mike Hammer discussing his fondness for the symphony and chowing down at The Four Seasons. Going back to Holmes, if getting out the needle and shooting up after a tough case isn't hardboiled then what are we talking about?

Dick Lochte

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