James, your thoughts on this question are timely as they are related to the recent posts on the origin of Chandler's "mean streets."
The sentences immediately preceding the "But down these mean streets a man must go..." passage in "The Simple Art of Murder" are: "In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man."
We can see Chandler wrestled with this issue in his fiction as he tried to balance hard-boiled elements with that certain "quality of redemption."
This quality of redemption is important to me when I read hard-boiled and noir fiction but I wouldn't care to argue with other readers for whom it is not important. But I think Chandler's contention can be used to bolster arguments with those who say that hard-boiled/noir fiction is nothing but "genre junk."
Kari E. Johnson
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