"Fiction In Any Form Is Always Intended To Be Realistic" An Exploration Of This Quote And Its Relation To The Genre Of Crime Fiction.

1640 words - 7 pages

Crime Fiction"Fiction in any form is always intended to be realistic" (Raymond Chandler, The simple art of murder). Crime fiction is no different. Underpinned by its trademark conventions - a crime, a mystery around how the crime was committed, a detective, an intricate convoluted plot and a climatic 'all is revealed' denouement - the genre has evolved to reflect changing social contexts of composition and to reflect upon the issues and values concerning the society of the day. Comparison of the works of the simple 'who dunnits' of Arthur Conan such as the Sussex Vampire (19.. ) with The Big Sleep (1940), LA Confidential (1990) and Snow Falling on Cedars (1998) reveals the nature of the evolutionary process which has enabled the genre to stand the test of time whilst also moving with the times. The result has been ongoing success for a genre which continues to appeal to the modern audience.The Golden Age of crime fiction, epitomised by the works of ACD and later AC, reflected upon a society defined by moral certitude and unwavering belief in justice. Hence the conventions of the genre, which were largely established in this era, serve to reaffirm upper class British society's confidence in itself. In the Sussex Vampire, Holmes's comment "I'm sure there's a rational explanation for this" is indicative of a culture that rejects crime as an aberration, an anomaly amid a morally steadfast society. In this scrupulously flawless world, the detective is a pillar of knowledge and wisdom, the quintessential sleuth. Further reflecting upon their self assured society, the detective saw the crime as a "problem in logic and deduction" (the simple Art of Murder), epitomised by Holmes's arrogant assertion in the Sussex Vampire that he will "disprove the common fear.Juxtaposing the Golden Age's belief in humanity, the genre soon evolved to reflect a society which had lived through WW2 and the Great Depression, giving birth to a movement called Film Noir. Raymond Chandler suggests that the Noir movement originated with Dashiell Hammett, who "took murder out of the Venetian vase and dropped it into the alley".The Big Sleep by Howard Hawkes reflects upon a society in which "Ever since the Depression, disillusionment and fear had been building" (Night of The Soul: American Film Noir). Chiaroscuro lighting, rain slicked streets and the hardboiled detective all characterise this film as a Noir production, "A study in depravity" (New York Times).Phillip Marlowe is the defining hard-boiled detective of the Noir genre, his pursuit of justice compromised by his vices of drinking, smoking and womanising. His willingness to break the law, as seen when he breaks into Geiger's house, is indicative of a morally ambiguous world which is unsure about the inevitability of justice. Hence Marlowe "the best man in his world and a good enough man in any world" (Raymond Chandler) reveals the corrupt nature of post WW2 society where even the detective is susceptible to human...

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