Re: RARA-AVIS: Cain and Hammett

From: jacquesdebierue (
Date: 03 Oct 2007

--- In, William Ahearn <williamahearn@...> wrote:
> --- DJ-Anonyme@... wrote:
> > While that may answer what a hero is no more, what
> > is one in your
> > estimation?
> >
> Here is the gist of it. It comes down to Jack's
> definition of screwed and whether Spade is screwed or
> not and not some revision of a hero. In Cain --
> Postman, Double Indemnity -- in Woolrich -- Waltz Into
> Darkness, Manhattan Love Song -- you have protagonists
> who end up screwed.

What do you mean by "screwed"? That there is something wrong in the head with the character or that he ends up screwed? If it's the head thing, I can think of plenty of noir novels where the character simply takes the wrong turn and is trapped. Jason Starr's protagonist who always smells like fish (I forget his name) is one of those. And Frank Kafka's characters in The Castle and The Trial are perfectly ordinary guys. The lawyer protagonist of _Body Heat_ is a not too smart guy, but he is not screwed in the head. The protagonist of _Out of the Past_, played so brilliantly by Mitchum, is not screwed in the head, and so on.

So I have to register a protest against this minimalist "screwed" definition of noir. It doesn't always fit.



This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 03 Oct 2007 EDT