Re: RARA-AVIS: colloquial and hardboiled

From: Rene Ribic (
Date: 23 Apr 2002

> In a message dated 4/23/02 1:50:10 PM, writes:
> << The way the character
> expresses himself, verbally or non-verbally, is an
> essential component. >>
> you've made your point very well, Jim. I simply don't share it.

Just to put in my 2c worth (AUS 4c) I have to say that I'm not big on definitions (even if they may be a necessary evil), the main reason being that no matter how good a definition is, someone can blow cannon sized holes through it - witness Jim D's definitions of HB & noir, which I thought were as succinct & as useful as any others I've seen, if not more so and yet look at the way the debate about these definitions refuses to die. I remember when similar debates were going on about definitions of, and demarcation between, fantasy & SF. I remember someone or other coming up with "SF is what I point to on the bookshelf when I say SF" - no doubt out of exasperation. I know that that
"definition" is completely useless as an academic tool but to me it works fine on the personal level. I'm not too fussed whether a book is technically Hb or noir or neither - I do use these labels as a rough guide on hunting up literature that might appeal to my tastes as I suspect many people on this list do. These literary labels that we use are artificial at the best of times and with HB/noir it's even moreso the case - witness the wide selection of material covered in the recent character vote. Are/were Highsmith, Hammett, Alan Moore, Ian Fleming, Willeford et al really working in the same genre or is it just that we perceive certain similarities in outlook and hence lump these writers together and then try to build a theoretical framework that covers this diversity of writers?


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