Re: Hardboiled Holmes (was Re: RARA-AVIS: Digest V3 #867)

Date: 07 Sep 2001 wrote:

> Holmes brooded, he was a loner, he was tough, he walked some mean
> streets and he was not himself mean--the more I go on the more I can
> see the case for it--but I'd never consider him a part of the
> hardboiled canon. He was a Victorian gentleman, and the whole
> package of the era, his nature, his habits, Conan Doyle's (or
> Watson's) writing, the mysteries themselves, all combine to exclude
> him. The stories have been favourites since I was 10, but I
> wouldn't count Holmes in with Spade, Marlowe, and all the rest.
> Some traits in common, but things are just shifted a bit too far out
> of line.

One of the essential differences is that the mean streets Holmes walked were, in the Holmes universe, essentially correctable, and not irredeemably corrupted. There are two kinds of horror stories: the ones in which an unnatural horror intrudes into the natural world, disrupting the proper order of things, and is fought and then expelled/killed; and the ones in which characters come in contact with a horror and discover that it is the universe itself which is horrible and inimical.

To a lesser degree the Holmesian milieu is the former and the hardboiled milieu is the latter.


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