RE: RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled Holmes

From: Anthony Dauer (
Date: 08 Sep 2001

This is by far the most convincing argument on why Holmes isn't hardboiled ... although I would question whether it was WWI that did this in the US. I think we've been questioning the institutions from the beginning and throwing off the yoke of a monarchy is the definitive example of this. While not the same, I would say that both Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe at least were gentlemen as well ... maybe more honest than Holmes. Spade takes his secretary out to dinner and performs the usual courting rituals with her, but is open to the opportunities afforded by a woman of less strict morals (for her time). Marlowe does the same with the policeman's daughter, however, in the end it appears they hook up and he never actually sullies himself with an affair with the married woman. Granted, all concepts that are foreign to our time and culture, but within the context of their own they fit the "view" held of their times. Reality of those times is probably not much different than the reality of today. Although its far less scandalous now for the out of wedlock child to be born than it was in their time.

Anthony Dauer
Alexandria, Virginia

Judas is looking for a few Femme Fatales for its next issue:
-----Original Message----- From: Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2001 7:39 AM
It's interesting to note that Anthony Boucher's THE CASE OF THE BAKER STREET IRREGULARS divides mysteries between Holmes and his successors and the hardboiled style. I think Boucher was right. No matter how one defines hardboiled, I think the lack of acceptance of the values and institutions of the society is fundamental--and that took World War I. Holmes may break laws and snub noblemen but only to assert late Victorian values. Like his creator, Holmes was fundamentally a gentleman.
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