Re: RARA-AVIS: Cowboys and Hemingway

Date: 08 Sep 2001


Re your question below:

> . . . I keep asking myself, reading this
> discussion, whether it's
> POSSIBLE to have hard-boiled without having
> previously had (1) cowboy and
> (2) Hemingway?

Partly, I think the HB tradition grows out of the frontier tradition of rugged individualism (though not necessarily from the cowboy, notwithstanding the fact that Charlie Siringo, one of the first PIs to become a writer styled himself the "Cowboy Detective").

An even greater influence was the confluence of events in the late teens and early '20s, specifically from the cynicism following WW1 and the adoption of Prohibition. In fact the word "hard-boiled" was first used to describe the tough, colloquial professional non-coms who were suddenly assigned the Herculean task of turning thousands of civilians into citizen-soldiers in a short period of time.

The influence of WW1 on Hemingway is well-known, but had Hemingway never existed, I think there still would have been HB crime fiction. Hammett and Daly, after all, were virtual contemporaries of Hemingway, and developed independently from Hemingway.


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