Re: RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled and Existentialism

From: Vincent F. A. Golphin (
Date: 18 May 2005

Jim Doherty:

You're correct. I don't know why I wrote op, particularly since Bogart was in my mind's eye when I wrote the comment. At the same time, I am not certain that just because a character makes a pseudo-philosophical statement such as, 'When a man's partner is killed, he's supposed to do something about it,"there is an indication of "some larger philosophical standard." I make comments like that all the time. Most of them are personal philosophies drawn only from the perspective of my life experience.

Nonetheless, I think the group has moved on from this discussion. I will concede that people can see Spade as existential, and even ascribed to some sense of morality.

As for his actions toward Brigid O'Shaughnessy, I don't think that was mentioned in my comments. I referred to Spade's entire participation. Throughout the novel, he hustles toward his own survival, making deals with all of the crooks and no one. The only rationale he gives for that involvement in the case is to set things right about the death of Miles Archer. He could have left the whole thing to the cops. Of course, that might have led to the loss of a really good novel.

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