RARA-AVIS: Re: Lehane's Definition

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 20 Oct 2005

On Sep 24, 2005, at 1:15 AM, Dave the Z wrote:

> I'd have to say "working-class tragedy" doesn't make a hell of a lot
> of sense as a definition for noir. I also don't see the connection for
> film noir either - how does that definition fit film noir classics
> like Body Heat, Angel Heart, Chinatown, Double Indemnity, Blade
> Runner, Godfather 2?

I'd have to agree. While a great many noirs (both film and novel) are set in the working class, it's not a major factor or a defining definition. These people are screwed and doomed whether the spoon in their yaps when they were born was silver or take-out plastic.

And Fred the Zed wrote:

> For some of rara-avians Canadians, the principal theme of Canadian Lit
> (as
> outlined by Margaret Atwood in her non-fiction book "Survival," 1972)
> is the
> relationship of society to its landscape. That the Canadian psyche is
> indelibly stamped by living in a vast, sparsely populated,
> inhospitable land
> that will kill you if you simply stand still. "You're gonna freeze in
> hell
> forever," that sounds noir to me. Just by being Canadian, one becomes
> noir?

Whether we want to be or not, there certainly is a dark thread running through most of our literature... as Prof. Schooley will no doubt elaborate on.

What's surpising, though, is that while our "literary" literature
(Richler, McLennan, Finley, Atwood, Laurence, assorted other Margarets) can be quite noirish, our crime fiction was often a bit on the, uh, twee side. Not counting Macdonald and Millar or the new breed, of course.

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com

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