Re: RARA-AVIS: RE: RARA-AVIS Digest V3 #867

Date: 07 Sep 2001


Re your comment below:

> 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?

Maybe the term "blue-collar" was the wrong one to use, but there is certainly a colloquial, "common man" attitude thatset, and still sets, the hard-boiled crime novel apart from the "traditional classic" style mystery.

What set Hammett and Chandler and even a compartative hack like Carrol John Daly apart was precisely their use of language, so to say that language isn't crucial is simply to ignore the obvious.

Shooting up after ahrd case isn't hard-boiled, or even tough. Actually it's weak, but that's another argument. Weaning oneself off the addiction, on the other hand, IS tough. But it's not necessarily hard-boiled, because hard-boiled, particularly in literature, is as much about attitude and language, about attitude expressed thorugh language, as it is about action.

That's why Holmes isn't hard-boiled, for all his toughness, and Hammer is, for all his love of classical music.


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