RE: RARA-AVIS: Characteristics of noir: Robison

From: Todd Mason (
Date: 11 Feb 2003

Secular/existential rather than literal damnation. Like Lovecraft's great gift to horror fiction (to make up for all the damage his most sedulous stylistic heirs have wrought), expanding upon Poe's, to put the focus on the slightly different darkness and the greater lack of certainty we face, now that monolithic churches are not the default choice for society at large. TM

-----Original Message----- From: Robison Michael R CNIN [mailto:]

I've been thinking about noir. Oftentimes the origin of noir fiction is pegged in the early Thirties, pointing to works by James Cain, Paul Cain, Raoul Whitfield, and even Faulkner. Can you think of any noir characteristics that separate these works from earlier ones by Conrad, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, or even Greek tragedy?

I'm not really looking for an argument over the definition. I like both Jim's "dark and sinister atmosphere", and Jack Bludis's "screwed". I'm simply looking for some justification for noir beginning in the Thirties instead of two thousand years ago. And if you are thinking of the "alienation of modern man", you better come on strong with it because I need some convincing. ;-)

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