RARA-AVIS: Back to the Basics

From: Neil Ian MacKillop ( rollotape@hotmail.com)
Date: 14 Feb 2003

Lurker here to put in my opinion.

Bill Denton makes the point: "History is full of bleak and tragic twisted stories, as well as tough people trying to do what's right in a world of evil, but that doesn't mean they're noir or hardboiled stories (or even proto-). The writing style key, and it didn't come along until the twentieth century."

I read an article this morning that said: "In literature, the connection
(with the Blues) is just as enduring. Ralph Ellison, author of "Invisible Man," wrote that 'I suspect that the one body of music which expresses the United States - which expresses this continent - is jazz and blues.'

"Ellison's novel, a signal work of 20th-century literature, employed the rhythms and improvisational tendencies of the blues, as well as jazz.

"Authors like Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler had the blues whether they ever heard it or not. In their novels - populated by downbeat characters caught up in circumstances they could neither predict nor prevent, sometimes as a consequence of their own folly - there's an essence of the blues. Still others close the circle: the baton's been passed, from Langston Hughes to Walter Mosley."

That got me to thinking that the Blues and hardboiled came into full bloom at about the same time here in America. Sure there were roots to each - shouts, hollers and rags for the blues - but it wasn't until W. C. Handy, Charlie Patton, Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson and a few others laid down their first recordings that the Blues was born. And that coincided with Carroll John Daly, Dashiell Hammett and the Cap Shaw school of Black Mask hardboiled literature.

Interesting parallel.

Now, back to lurking.


If ever there was a case of clearer evidence than this of persons acting in concert together, this case is that case!
-- Sir R. Megarry

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