Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Book review in Journal of Social History

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 11 Apr 2004


> I think we should be careful about generalizing from
> Chandler and his knight. Marlowe is not a typical
> pulp
> protagonist. He is an educated man, he sees himself
> and
> what he does ironically and his boss gave him a
> voice that
> is both a paragon and a parody. I have reservations
> about
> painting Marlowe as the quintessential pulp
> protagonist. As
> Jim has pointed out, those pulps are full of gleeful
> crooks
> and gleefully brutish anticrooks who are in essence
> no
> different (just working on the other side). This is,
> at
> least for me, is a large part of the attraction that
> the
> pulps still exert (the other part is the impudent
> and
> original use of language).

Even Hammett, though, had a moralistic streak, although it's usually rather underplayed. It's a kind of independently formulated Hemingwayesque "do your best to adhere to a code in a hellish world" thing.

I guess my point is you and Mr. Doherty are right, but that there's a reason we read Hammett and Chandler and not Daly, say. The amoral stuff exists but suffers in comparison.

(Incidentally, I don't consider myself a snob about these things. I have a really bad weakness for men's adventure paperbacks, even really grotty ones like the Nick Carter: Killmaster series.)


===== Doug Bassett

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