Re: RARA-AVIS: Artifice, tradition, and all that jazz.

Date: 24 Feb 2003


Re your comments below:

> I'm sure they did. You've made good points. But I
> still suggest that
> cozies, have their own, separate place in the
> mystery tradition. I
> associate the term with the almost claustrophobic
> containment of place: on
> trans-continental trains, aboard ships, in mansion
> drawing rooms etc. and
> the cozy little groups of people who inhabited them.

There've been hard-boiled novels and stories taking place in small, contained settings (Hammett's "The Ouse on Turk Street" comes immediately to mind), and there've been cozies that covered a wide territory
(one of D.L. Sayers's novels, the one where Lord Peter's older brother is being tried by the House of Lords, covers action on two continents).

I think what you may be perceiving is that, in Holmes and his predecessors, since, to a degree Conan Doyle was mapping his own territory, things seem freer-wheeling, while in the "traditional" mysteries following Conan Doyle, particularly those produced between the wars, the pattern has become much more formalized. It's not so much the setting, but the pattern, that's become claustrophobic.

And I suppose it was that very pattern that hard-boiled writers, however self-aware they were, were reacting against.


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