Re: RARA-AVIS: greatest noir or detective protags

From: Patrick King (
Date: 04 Aug 2009

  • Next message: Steve Novak: "Re: RARA-AVIS: greatest noir or detective protags"

    How, then, do you define hardboiled fiction? Hannay was the original lone agent who'd stop at nothing to gain his ends. Hell, he escapes from a country house by blowing it up and everyone in it. I'll concede that Buchan is not a great writer in the way that Hammett & Chandler are. But he's a much better writer than his immediate contemporaries, Edgar Wallace and Sax Rohmer.

    While hardboiled and noir fiction both appeal to us, there's a distinct difference between the two. Hardboiled fiction is romantic, improbable, good overcoming evil by getting into the dirt with evil and beating it at its own game. This pretty much never happens in real life. It's escapist fiction.

    Noir, on the other hand, is a study of doom. No matter how successful a noir protagonist may be, the decisions they make are going to destroy them. Doc & Carol McCoy in Thompson's THE GETAWAY for example: even in succeeding, the price of their success is so high their life is miserable. Noirs are cautionary tales.

    So these two types of fiction are almost diametrically opposed to each other. The only factors they have in common is that they were both roughly composed and popular between 1929 & 1959, distributed in paperbacks and magazines, both influenced by and influencing popular cinema, and both deal in crime. Noir deals with crime realisticly, hardboiled deals with crime romantically.

    The Buchan books about Richard Hannay are tough, violent stories about a lone man fighting crime in the "modern" world and winning against all odds. He's the predecessor to Sam Spade, Phillip Marlow, James Bond, and Indiana Jones. What has to be in the formula, and these are formula books, for you to concede that this is hardboiled fiction? Perhaps the first hardboiled fiction as we have come to know it

    Patrick King

    --- On Tue, 8/4/09, Stephen Burridge <> wrote:

    From: Stephen Burridge <> Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: greatest noir or detective protags To: Date: Tuesday, August 4, 2009, 11:29 AM


                      My view is that Buchan, while popular and influential, did not write

    hardboiled or noir fiction.

    I haven't read Ian Fleming's work, so I won't comment on it. Bond may well

    qualify as a hardboiled protagonist.


    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]







    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 04 Aug 2009 EDT