The quest for the ultimate definition for hardboiled is a fun
game, but it can't be won. We're talking fiction, here, and
no matter how one or two or one hundred of us may agree to
define hardboiled, some pesky author either already has or
soon will come along to bust the definition. Jim Doherty's
boiled down (hardboiled down?) definition strikes me as being
as good a try as any. But I don't think it's particularly
helpful to try and change the interpretation of a character
to make a fit. Philip Marlowe is not a working class hero.
His previous employment (cop, DA's man, whatever), and his
humble origins, if they were humble, have nothing to do with
it. He's an intellectual. A social critic. A snob. He replays
classic chess games. He recognizes paintings and he knows
poetry and authors. He can name every flower on a Southern
California hillside. He finds an eager naked babe in his bed
and tosses her out, then tears up the linen. He's not an
average Joe. He's a white knight. A hardboiled white knight.
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