Re: RARA-AVIS: Henning Mankell

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 21 Oct 2004

At 10:31 PM 20/10/2004 -0400, Karin wrote:

>Whereas humour is commonly held to be a redeeming feature of either the
>noir hero or the noir book. That's what I learned from a panel at Bouchercon.

If I may be allowed to split hairs, I don't think humour is redemptive, but it does support tolerance. It becomes an almost essential ingredient in noir (as you recognize by its absence in Mankell's work) because redemption, transcendence etc. are denied. Aspiration is frustrated, yet we endure, if we endure, by laughing it off. This supports the observation made elsewhere on this list that noir is more about survival than redemption. The code of the lone-wolf detective is more about individual survival than achieving a personal nirvana.

Of course, humour may be said to redeem an otherwise bleak work, if not its protagonist or the story theme.

Anyway, however hard comedy may be, humour is more verifiable than redemption.

Best Kerry

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