RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled/Noir Origins

From: Michael Robison ( miker_zspider@yahoo.com)
Date: 22 Mar 2004

Mark Sullivan wrote:

Didn't all of these authors base their takes on America on secondary, usually fictional sources, never having visited the real thing? And doesn't that seem to imply that America is considered the natural setting for hardboiled/noir? I'm not sure where I'm going with this beyond noting the trend, but I think it says something about the idea of America and mythmaking.

**************** A great idea, Mark! We've just about beat definitions into the ground. Let's talk about origins.

The origin of hardboiled is American. There was a considerable delay before it became common in other countries. I think by definition we've just about decided that noir fiction originated in the States, too, although for film I've seen Germany mentioned.

Australian hardboiled came about for an interesting reason. Tariffs after WWII (I think that's the timeframe) were so high on paperbacks that nobody would buy them, so the Australians started homecooking it. It was meant to replace the American flavor so the novels had American locales. There were some exceptions. Bant Singer is one of them. Some of the authors writing Australian hardboiled were actually American expatriots.


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