Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Most Hard-Boiled?

Date: 19 Dec 2006


You spend a whole lot of your post setting up a contrast between your definition of noir and mine. However, I never gave a definition. I was contrasting yours with Duhamel's, not mine.

Even if I were to accept that those two descriptions support each other, you run into trouble here:

"But, as mentioned above, the subject matter Duhamel describes isn't limited to noir or hard-boiled, so it must NOT be what defines noir or hard-boiled."

What's hardboiled got to do with this? Did Duhamel also publish a Serie Hardboiled?

"If it's not what defines noir or hard-boiled, something else must be the defining element.
"I think that defining element is a dark and sinister atmosphere."

However, a dark and sinister atmosphere is not limited to noir, either. As has been pointed out, numerous (the majority of? it's been a long time since I've read them) Sherlock Holmes mysteries are dark and sinister crime stories, as are Poe's. Any gothic with a crime in it would satisfy this definition. Dracula kills in a dark and sinister atmosphere, does that make Stoker's novel a noir? I'm currently reading Patrick Suskind's Perfume. It is certainly dark and sinister, and there are murders, but I have trouble thinking of it as noir. Snoopy's book is noir under this definition: "It was a dark and story night. Suddenly, a shot rang out. . . ."

So even if your "dark and sinister" were common to all noirs (of course, wouldn't that rule out a lot of Florida noirs -- Willeford, Hendricks, etc -- that take place in the sunshine?), it is far from exclusive to noirs. You argue that your definition is necessarily general to encompass all possible contenders. Isn't it too general if it admits those which are not contenders? At what point does a definition become too general, too inclusive to be useful?


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