Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS Digest V5 #33 - Noir

From: Kerry Schooley (
Date: 22 Feb 2003

At 05:23 PM 22/02/2003 -0500, you wrote:

>I'm not even hinting that hardboiled and the cozy are the same thing (or
>that cozies aren't by their nature inferior to hardboiled, at least
>according to my taste), but I'm not sure that most hardboiled literature
>is any more natural, no matter how much more naturalistic it purports to
>be. (And much of it isn't even that naturalistic, not that that's
>necessarily a bad thing -- Latimer, anyone?) It is a genre (or Jim
>would probably say, not wrongly, a group of genres) and as such, it has
>certain requirements which have more to do with telling a good story
>than with telling a natural one. Of course, some of the best do both.

A friend of mine recently pointed out that cozies are mannered novels that question the rights to authority of "superior", titled classes. In their private lives, in their drawing rooms and on their estates Lord & Lady Whatsis, Colonel Mustard etc. were as corrupt and capable of murder as the
"criminal" classes.

Like hardboil, the cozy became popular between the wars. During WWI upper-class officers who often inherited their rank, hurled the lower-class rank and file into certain death to win a few feet of ground, and then give it back. Technologies that might have broken stalemates were sometimes ignored as ungentlemanly or unsporting. And life for the Tommy in the trenches was much worse than that enjoyed by commanders behind the lines.

This might argue that the difference between the cozy and the hardboiled, at least at that time, reflected the different reactions Americans and Britons had to their war experiences, relative to their different cultures. Hardboil would seem more real to Americans because it springs from the American experience, the shift from rural to urban and the inability to outrun industrialization. Artificialities are overlooked in this dialogue of real issues. For the Brits, the cozy may be superficially, and perhaps necessarily artificial, in order to deal with real issues of class.

Best Kerry

------------------------------------------------------ Literary events Calendar (South Ont.) The evil men do lives after them

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