Re: RARA-AVIS: RE:Hardboiled Character Traits

Date: 29 Apr 2002


Re your observation below:

> 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.

Marlowe's being an intellectual and his being "working class" are not mutally exclusive. In "The Simple Art of Murder" Chandler makes a point of the hero's working class roots ("He is the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.") "His world" is the mean streets. Moreover, for all his intellecutalism ("I went to COlleg once and I can still speak English if there's a need for it"), Marlowe's speech pattern is naturally colloquial. Marlowe fits the "tough and colloquial" definition as well as any and better than most.


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