Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Introduction

Date: 13 Oct 2004


Re your comment below:

> Remember that Chandler's essay was a direct response
> to Sayers' introduction to her first OMNIBUS OF
> CRIME, in which Sayers said that detective fiction
> "does not, and by hypothesis never can, attain the
> loftiest level of literary achievement." (He was
> also responding to Auden's esay "The Guilty
> Vicarage," which said much the same thing.) Chandler
> disagreed with Sayers and Auden, obviously.
> Chandler's attacks on the sort of fiction that
> Sayers wrote was thus not unprovoked, perhaps... but
> I am biased, I admit.

That's quite true. But rather than rebut Sayers's actual hypothesis, that ANY crime fiction, by definition, could not achieve literary excellence beyond a certain level, Chandler's response was to say, essentially, "That may be true of the crap YOU write, but not of the fine stuff written by me and my brethren." And he specifically singled out one of Dorthy L.'s books for criticism.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy Chandler's essay. But I don't think there's any doubt that TSAM, far more than Sayers's intro to OMINIBUS OF CRIME, contributed to the tension that exists to this day between partisans of traditional mysteries and those of hard-boiled/noir, as exemplified most recently, apparently, in Russell James's article (which I haven't read so I'm going by what I've heard).


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 13 Oct 2004 EDT