Re: RARA-AVIS: 3/29/02 - Top 100 List A QUESTION RE: VOTING

From: M Blumenthal (
Date: 30 Mar 2002

I wrote,
> << Remember that hard
> boiled has developed from the pulps and popular fiction, not what is
> great literature. It's up to you to define best. >>
Jim Blue wrote,

> There's nothing magical or even all that difficult about defining
> and agreeing on them. People do it all the time about subjects more
> and more esoteric than the one at hand. Also, the fact that hard-boiled
> fiction came from the pulps rather than some higher literary realm does
> render it too pedestrian to be assessed. In my opinion, strong
> fiction can stand up against any other fiction.

This list has debated how to define hard boiled since I've been on it. That's five years. I think that shows great difficulty in defining something. I wrote 'what is called literature.' I was referring to the popular perception. The NPR list had characters almost equally from popular fiction and what would be called great literature. I didn't say that is what I thought.

     The problem here (if it is a problem) is that you guys are deep into
> your own thing" on choosing this list, but you want to give it a name that
> will make it sound like the RARA-AVIS group has spoken out with a
> voice about which hard-boiled characters are best. That's not what's
> happening. What we're really doing is creating a hundred different lists
> using a hundred different criteria and then we're adding up the votes as
> though the totals really meant something.

Any list made up with many people voting is going to be like that. All the greatest 100 of the century lists I saw were made up that way. I thought some of the inclusions on the AFI Institute's greatest 100, for example, were ridiculous, but others might have felt the same way about movies I would put on my list. What we are trying to get is a consensus. The only alternative is for some 'authority' to make up a list, but there is no guarantee that list would be more accurate than one this list came up with.

BTW, te definition of 'best in Random House's College Dictionary is " 1 Of the highest quality or standing. 2 Most advantageous or suitable. I don't see how that would assist you in voting any more than what I have stated.

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