Re: RARA-AVIS: Chandler's "Noir Feel" for LA (was Denise Hamilton)

Date: 14 May 2004


Re your comments below:

> As I've learned from Rara-Avis, "noir" gets to
> atmosphere (dark and
> sinister, as Jim D. puts it) and "hard-boiled" gets
> to character (the tough
> outsider who adheres to his code, maintains his
> dignity and even wins a few
> even as he takes his lumps). So is it right to say
> that Chandler gives us a
> hard-boiled protagonist operating in a noir world?
> If so, at what point
> does the fact that Chandler's hero isn't himself a
> noirish character - isn't
> dark and sinister - isn't a desperate loser
> spiralling out of control and
> about to go down for the count - change the contours
> and texture of the
> world in which he operates - the world Chandler
> describes - so that it
> becomes something other than noirish? There's a
> nobility and romanticism
> and even an idealism in Chandler's hero and his city
> that is ultimately
> redemptive ("I can't go on. I'll go on") and so
> ultimately not noirish -
> despite the atmospherics.

It IS ultimately noirish because the atmospherics, and nothing else, are what define noir.

Many noir stories are about "desperate losers spiralling out of control," but many aren't. What they have in common is the dark, sinister atmosphere. Since that's the common element, that must be the DEFINING element.

Chandler's LA remains noir because, despire Marlowe's
"slightly tarnished" nobility, despite his perseverance, despite his ethics, and despite his heroism, it remains dark and sinister.


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