Re: RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled and Marxism

From: John Williams (
Date: 07 Sep 2006

  Allan Guthrie wrote:

I don't really think of books as having a single worldview unless they're written from a single point of view.


I don't necessarily associate the worldview of a book with the views of a first person narrator.


Exactly right. I'm afraid I haven't got a lot of patience with this school of anti-marxist, anti-intellectual literary theory as often practised by crime novelists generally, and British ones in particular, that basically sums up as 'don't blame me I only work here'.

Of course, as a writer myself, I create characters who are not me and they say things I wouldn't say and do things I wouldn't do, and of course some of those things they say and do aren't things I'd planned for them to say and do. But taken as a whole I'm quite sure my books reflect my world view. I do have some idea of what territory I'm heading into, and inevitably that's territory I want to head into, otherwise I'm not sure why I would bother do it.

Or, at least, the only reason I can see to go into territory that doesn't speak to your personal obsessions/interests/world view is if you're writing purely in the hope of pleasing a market, in which case you're a hack (there are of course plenty of very good hacks who cater for a market very skilfully - they're just not in the business of writing literature). And most of Al's example of writing without a world view are examples of hack work. Thus I 'd suggest that You Play The Black... is a work of literature that reflects Hallass's world view, while Lassie is hackwork that doesn't

In general I think the process of writing a non-hack novel for a writer is one of self discovery. You start with a sense that there's an aspect of life you want to know more about, you write a book that gets in there, and some time, maybe years later, you can look at that book and kind of see that that-there-on-the-page is your world view.

What grabs me in a writer's work is that same sense that the writer is stretching themselves - taking their world view into territory that interests them, and seeing what results.

John, wondering whether his horse isn't a bit high.


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