Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS Digest V4 #231

Date: 23 Apr 2002


> By this definition, James Bond is not hardboiled
> because he speaks well.

I never said he was hard-boiled. I personally don't think he is. He is, partiuclarly as Fleming originally wrote him, an upper-class British snob. Fleming, for that matter, was an upper-class British snob. Look at his reaction when he first learned that Sean Connery (an enlisted man in the Navy, of all things!) had been cast as Bond. He thought Connery wasn't enough of a gentleman. He came around later on, true, and even made Bond part Scottish (something never mentioned before THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, Fleming's only post-movie Bond novel) in deference to Connery's background, but originally he was very upset because Connery wasn't elegant enough. Was (dare I say it?) too colloquial.

> And what about Hannibal Lecter? He's downright
> eloquent in his speech.

Again, although I think the books he appears in are hard-boiled, or at least that an argument can be made that they are hard-boiled, Lector himself is not. Elegance is probably as close to an absolutely disqualifying characteristic as there is.
> There also seems to be a class bias here. Upper
> class cannot be
> hardboiled?

I wouldn't want to close out the upper classes absolutely, but generally I think that's true. Hard-boiled crime fiction is the fiction of the working class. Cozy or traditional crime fiction is the fiction of the upper class. That's not bias, because I'm not saying one is better than the other. I'm only pointing out the obvious differences. Hercule Poirot is not the same sort of character as Sam Spade. They are both good, valid characters, but they don't spring from the same tradition.

> What about Jason Starr's upwardly mobile characters?
> They seem pretty
> damned hardboiled to me in the way they pursue their
> goals; does their
> speaking well rule them out? I haven't read McCoy's
> Kiss Tomorrow
> Goodbye yet, but isn't the main character a
> well-educated, son of
> privilege? I'm guessing he speaks well, too.

I haven't read Jason Starr (I thought he was a crippled PI character in the DC Comics universe; who am I thinking of?). I've only read McCoy's pulp stuff. The characters in stories like "The Mopper-Up" were definitely "regular guy" working men.


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