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Archive - General > What is the difference between hard-boiled and noir?

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message 1: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Well, what IS the difference? Author Megan Abbott has some answers!

Hardboiled is distinct from noir, though they’re often used interchangeably. The common argument is that hardboiled novels are an extension of the wild west and pioneer narratives of the 19th century. The wilderness becomes the city, and the hero is usually a somewhat fallen character, a detective or a cop. At the end, everything is a mess, people have died, but the hero has done the right thing or close to it, and order has, to a certain extent, been restored. Law and Order is a great example of the hardboiled formula in a contemporary setting.

Noir is different. In noir, everyone is fallen, and right and wrong are not clearly defined and maybe not even attainable. In that sense, noir speaks to us powerfully right now, when certain structures of authority don’t make sense any longer, and we wonder: Why should we abide by them? Noir thrived in the 40s after the Depression and World War II, and in the 70s, with Watergate and Vietnam, for similar reasons.

Well what do you think?

message 2: by Paula (new)

Paula Examples,please?

message 3: by Aditya (new)

Aditya | 1865 comments Thanks for the link Kirsten, it is an interesting discussion. I always thought the distinction was a matter of semantics with the writing style often called hard-boiled and the genre called noir.

@Paula going by the Abott's definitions Raymond Chandler will be the ultimate example of hard-boiled. Philip Marlowe is tough and cynical without ever losing his morality. An example of noir will be James Ellroy whose protagonists and antagonists are equally flawed. Moving to movies Double Indemnity is the quintessential noir while The Big Sleep is essentially hard-boiled.

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