RE: RARA-AVIS: 1st and 3rd

Date: 25 May 2002


Re your comment below:

> i agree that both work, but it would seem to me
> that first person would be a far greater challenge
> to a writer. iirc, hemingway avoided first person
> (most of the time) because of the difficulties.

As a writer, I have to disagree with this. I find that first person is a much more natural way to write for me. Getting into a single character's head and seeing everything from his point of view just comes very easily.

Conversely, I find writing in third person much more difficult. There are advantages, of course (being able to take the reader places where the main character isn't present; concealing information without appearing to be cheating; etc.), but it's not as natural a way of expressing myself.

FWIW, my cop stories have, to this point, been written in the first person, although it's far more common for police procedurals to be written in the third, while my PI stories, thus far, have been written in the third, while the more common convention is for PI stories to be written in the first.

My own theory as to the persistence of first person in the PI genre is the influence of Chandler. Before THE BIG SLEEP, PI stories were probably about evenly divided between 1st and 3rd. Afterwards, it became far more common for PI stories to be first person narratives because so many writers were emulating Chandler.

I think Chandler's also the root source of such well-recognized PI conventions as the one-man agency
(in contrast to the big-agency operative, a much more common device pre-Chandler), the PI's background as an ex-cop (often one whose law enforcement career ended badly, as opposed to detectives who apprenticed on big agencies which, again, was a much more common device pre-Chandler), and the PI's tendency to philosophize
(as opposed to the more "matter-of-fact" approach taken even by pre-Chandler 1st person heroes).

I don't claim that Chandler was the originator of ANY of those conventions. He may not have even been the first to put them all together. But his synthesis of those elements into the Marlowe character did result in a paradigm from which PI fiction has seldom shifted since.


__________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Yahoo! - Official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup

# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 25 May 2002 EDT