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

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 11 Apr 2004

At 03:42 AM 10/04/2004 -0700, you wrote:

>Parker doesn't amke moral choices because he never
>considers the moral ramifications of any actions he
>takes. His only concern is how any decision he makes
>will benefit him.

Isn't that a moral decision? Perhaps not what we'd consider a "good" moral decision, though I suspect that it is good in the sense that it works for Parker.

>In any case, Bill said that what distinguished
>hard-boiled from the other pulp genres was that
>hard-boiled more concerned with morality. I don't
>think that's inherently more true of hard-boiled crime
>fiction that it is of, say, the western or the
>swashbuckler or the military/war story. Or even, for
>that matter, the cozy or traditional mystery.

Yes, other genres deal with moral issues too, though sometimes they do not. I doubt that romance or horror deal with moral issues very much at all, though they can and do at times.

But this is a defining characteristic for noir. Sometimes noir stories may hypothesize good or bad moral choices, popular or unpopular choices; they may suggest confusion in the face of such choices or satirize the fact that people feel compelled to make such choices, but given the accepted (on this list at least- and who the hell else is crazy enough to endlessly argue these points?) instigation for the genre as the search for codes of behaviour in response to the experience of war, how can we possibly define it otherwise?

I mean come-on Jim, when you say "dark and sinister," are you talking only about the weather?


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