RARA-AVIS: Re:Most Hard-Boiled?

From: jimdohertyjr ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 18 Dec 2006


Re your comment below:

> You're forgetting half of your own definition of hardboiled. You
> talk about the toughest characters and writers but you don't talk
> about the most colloquial.
> Incidentally, here's a link (in French) to a quote by Marcel
> describing La Serie Noire books. I'm told that he mentions
> non-conformity, anguish, corruption, action, violence and a host of
> other things we frequently talk about here. I believe you've said
> several occasions that we shouldn't redefine what Duhamel
> defined. Well, now we have the words from his lips and they
> aren't 'dark and sinister'. I'd be most appreciative if one of the
> French speakers on list has the time to translate this.

I didn't forget the other half of the definition. All the writers I mentioned write in a colloquial style. But, in the context of the question, I presumed (and yes, I grant that it was a presumption) that he was asking who was the toughest, not who was the most colloquial.

As for Marcel Duhamel's comments, he isn't giving a definition. He's describing the subject matter that readers can expect. On the evidence of the books published in his line, it's clear that all the thing he brings up aren't in every single book he published. So it can't stand as a definition. On the other hand, the subject matter, and the way his writers treat that subject matter, sounds dark and sinister to me.

Since he isn't giving a definition per se, we have to infer what noir means by finding some common element shared by all the books, at least by all the books with which we are personnaly familiar, on a list that ranges from James M. Cain to novelizations of DRAGNET scripts, and concluding that whatever they all seem to have in common MUST be the defining element.

This, by the way, sounds like a good place to mention that my second "I Like 'Em Tough" column is posted in the latest issue MYSTERICAL-E. YOu can find it here:

http://mystericale.com/index.php? issue=current_issue&body=file&file=like_em_tough.htm

Coincidentally, the subjects of this issue's column are the definitions of hard-boiled and noir.


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